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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Navjot Singh Sidhu, the perpetual rebel, loses high-profile Amritsar East seat

Navjot Singh Sidhu – who was sent thrice to Parliament from Amritsar, all three on a BJP ticket, and once to the Punjab Assembly, as the Congress candidate from Amritsar East – has conceded defeat.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
Updated: March 10, 2022 7:22:34 pm
Navjot Singh SidhuState Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu said the people of the state had taken a "good decision" and "laid a new foundation".(file photo)

One of the biggest upsets this election is state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu’s loss in Amritsar East, where he was locked in a high-profile contest with Shiromani Akali Dal leader Bikram Singh Majithia.

Sidhu – who was sent thrice to Parliament from Amritsar, all three on a BJP ticket, and once to the Punjab Assembly, as the Congress candidate from Amritsar East – has conceded defeat.

He put out a tweet saying, “The voice of the people is the voice of God …. Humbly accept the mandate of the people of Punjab …. Congratulations to Aap !!!”

Sidhu, who had a tough rival in Majithia, also faced opposition within the Congress party. His absence from the constituency and poor coordination with councillors and voters didn’t help either. While he was not the CM face, given the party’s disastrous performance in the elections, all knives will be out for him considering that it was his open attack on the government led by Amarinder Singh that exposed the differences within the party and the government.

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He also had to fight the perception that the BJP tried to create about him – that he was soft on Pakistan and its Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The cricketer-turned-commentator-turned-politician has been in politics for more than 18 years. Yet, many see him as an unlikely politician – one who spoke his mind regardless of the party line or diktats. The fact that he is among the few politicians in the state without any business interests made him eligible to speak on the conflict of interest that plagued Punjab’s politician-businessmen. It was a moral high ground which he openly flaunted, something that possibly made it difficult for the high command to act against him even when he openly took them on.

Even while he was with the BJP, his propensity to shoot his mouth off ensured he wasn’t popular among the party leadership in the state.

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A few months before the Assembly elections, Sidhu had resigned from his post as PPCC president just when the Congress was starting from scratch after replacing Captain Amarinder Singh with Charanjit Singh Channi. Many compared it to how Sidhu had famously walked out of the England tour in 1996 as he was upset with then Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin. While Sidhu made his claim to the CM post evident, he eventually fell in line.

Born to a Sikh father and a Hindu mother, Sidhu is known to practise both religions and is often spoken of as a Hindu politician in turban. He has a big idol of Shiva at his house, yet he found place in the heart of Sikh voters after he proactively spoke in favour of opening the Kartarpur Sahib Corridor. His focus on Sikh issues also earned him the support of panthic voters.

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First published on: 10-03-2022 at 01:34:04 pm

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