After months of self-imposed political exile, Congress leader and former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu broke his silence on Thursday by announcing that he met party president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi in New Delhi recently to discuss the “revival of the state”.
In a press statement sent via email, Sidhu said, “I was summoned to Delhi by the Congress high command and met party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi at her residence for 40 minutes on February 25. The next day, I met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the general secretary at 10, Janpath, for more than an hour.”
Giving details of the meeting, he said, “I got a patient hearing and apprised them of the prevailing situation in Punjab along with the roadmap to the resurrection and revival of the state back to its pristine glory. I have persisted with conviction about this roadmap for the past many years in the Cabinet and public domain diligently.”
Sidhu, who was made a star campaigner by the Congress in the recent Delhi assembly elections, abstained from campaigning. The party drew a blank in the elections.
BACK IN PUBLIC GLARE
Missing from the public glare for over seven months, even at the cost of remaining absent from the assembly sessions, the cricketer-turned-politician was seen sharing pleasantries with Akali Dal breakaway group leader Ranjit Singh Brahmpura at a public function in Amritsar 10 days ago. He was also seen talking with Congress MP Gurjeet Aujla at the event. However, he maintained a distance from Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia.
After resigning from the state cabinet on July 15, 2019, the former power minister, Sidhu, was seen for the first time in public on November 9 when he was among the first all-party delegation of 500 pilgrims from India that reached Pakistan’s Kartarpur to pay obeisance at the shrine of Guru Nanak Dev, the founder of Sikhism, after the opening of the historic corridor between the two countries.
DIFFERENCES WITH CAPTAIN
Sidhu, who used to swear loyalty to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, had to exit from the government after differences with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh.
Sidhu, who had been at loggerheads with Capt Amarinder, formally resigned on July 14. Since then, he had limited public outings.
Seeing the tone and tenor of Capt Amarinder’s assertions, Sidhu’s “rehabilitation” in political circles is not seen in the ruling dispensation.
When Pakistan railway minister Sheikh Rashid said that the Kartarpur Corridor was the brainchild of their army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Punjab chief minister urged Sidhu to be more cautious in his dealings with the Imran Khan government. He advised Sidhu not to allow his personal friendship with the Pakistan prime minister to cloud his judgement in any way, as that could be harmful for India’s interests.