A day after being sworn in as minister, Navjot Singh Sidhu today said if the Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, had asked him to serve as an MLA, he would have done so. Allotted portfolios of Local Government and Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Archives and Museums, the cricketer-turned-politician also said he will continue doing his television show.
“There were a lot of discussions on Sidhu will become this and that… I am thankful to the people for their wishes and intentions. But I always kept away from this,” he told reporters after assuming office today.
On speculation about him being made the Deputy Chief Minister, Sidhu said, “Had the Captain (Amarinder) asked me to serve by being an MLA, I would have done that too.”
“I am happy with anything and everything that Captain sahib, Rahul ji and Priyanka ji think and deem fit for me. I have come to put the state on the right track and not fufill any private interest,” he asserted.
Speculation was rife that Sidhu would be made Deputy Chief Minister in the present dispensation. However, he featured second on the list of nine ministers who were sworn in yesterday.
The former BJP MP said he had been offered by the BJP to contest elections from Kurukshetra, Chandigarh and West Delhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, but a Rajya Sabha seat did not matter to him as it forced him to stay away from his roots.
On whether he will continue with his appearance in the television programme, Sidhu said he can discharge his duties as a minister even doing the show.
“I won six elections in the last 12 years… if the public has no objection (over his TV show) then why are you (the media) objecting to it,” he asked.
Sidhu said, ” For the television show, I will leave at three in the evening and reach there by five. Then I will shoot for the show for the whole night. I will take a flight at three in the morning and will reach here at 5 AM, and go to office at 7 AM.”
He emphasised that the new Congress government in Punjab would have to work with a positive intent for the first six months.
“The first six months, we have to work with positive intent. We have to be true in our work,” he said while describing Chief Minister Amarinder Singh as a father figure to him.
“Amarinder, who is like my father, told me to show positive intent of the government in the first six months,” Sidhu said, adding like in cricket, the first session of the test match set the tone of the game.
The newly-inducted minister described the Local Government Department as a “den of corruption” and asserted that he would not allow any corrupt practice.
“We have to make the public feel that we are people of character. There is a character crisis in Punjab today and this has to go,” he said.
Describing himself as a born Congressman, Sidhu said he will carry three phones, one for the people of his constituency, one for Congress MLAs and one for Amarinder Singh.
On the alleged corruption by the Badals, he said there will be no vendetta politics.
“Anything positive, is better than negative. Two wrongs do not make one right. Arresting somebody will not be for Punjab’s progress and development. The law will take its course. There will be no vendetta politics as Punjab needs progress and every minute is crucial,” he said.