Navjot Sidhu stages a comeback into Punjab politics, nominated to state BJP core team
| Chandigarh |
Updated: July 19, 2016 11:30:47 am
In a major change to the composition of the core committee of the state unit of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Rajya Sabha MP Navjot Sidhu has been made a part of the committee even as state local bodies’ minister Anil Joshi, Sidhu’s friend-turned foe, has been dropped.
The three-time Amritsar MP, Navjot Sidhu, had long been sidelined within the party’s Punjab affairs and had stopped playing an active part ever since the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat went to Arun Jaitley who subsequently lost to Capt Amarinder Singh. Navjot Sidhu, along with his wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, BJP MLA from Amritsar East constituency and a Chief Parliamentary Secretary in the state government, have not enjoyed the best of relations with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership. Sidhu’s rehabilitation in Punjab politics by BJP sends a strong signal to the Akali coalition partners that he would be playing an important role leading upto the forthcoming assembly elections.
Sources in BJP confirmed the changes in the core committee of the party in which along with Anil Joshi, the party has also dropped Tikshan Sud, a former MLA and minister who is at present enjoying the status of Political Advisor to the Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal. Out of the four BJP cabinet ministers in the state, only two are part of the core committee with Health Minister Surjit Kumar Jyani’s name also not figuring in the list. Former MP, Gurcharan Kaur has also been dropped from the committee.
Anil Joshi, who had at one point of time enjoyed cordial relations with Navjot Sidhu, later turned into one of his detractors. Both, Joshi and Tikshan Sud, are also believed to have been close to the former state President Kamal Sharma, and the their removal from the core committee was also being linked to the fact that the new president, Vijay Sampla, wanted to organsie his own team. For his part, Navjot Sidhu too had been eyeing a return to the politics of the state and had said so at the time of his nomination to the Rajya Sabha.
As per the list of the new members of the committee accessed by The Indian Express, it includes the names of state president Vijay Sampla, former state president Ashwini Rai Khanna, Navjot Sidhu, Kamal Sharma, Brij Lal Rinwa, Manoranjan Kalia, Rajendra Bhandari, Chunni Lal Bhagat, Ashwini Sharma, Tarun Chugh and Madan Mohan Mittal. Four ex-officio members would also be members of the committee and these include the general secretary (organisation) and the state party in-charge.
A senior BJP leader said that the composition of the committee has been decided by the national president, Amit Shah, and that the state leadership was informed of the decision through a letter. “The inclusion of Navjot Sidhu will send an important message to our alliance partners as well as the cadre. Given the fact that he is a well known figure in the state as well as a master orator, the cadre will be enthused by his inclusion in the decision making body,” a senior leader said. A close confidante of Sampla said that he had no role to play in inclusion or exclusion of any name and that his effort was to take all senior leaders along.
While Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, rarely misses an opportunity to lash out at the Akali leadership in the state and blames them for ignoring welfare schemes of her constituency, Sidhu has lately remained silent and has been out of Amritsar for long durations.
In his absence his wife has been fighting the battle against the Akali leadership and has openly said on several occasions that she did not wish to fight the next elections if the party still remained in alliance with the Akalis. Navjot Sidhu himself also has attacked Akalis on several occasions, including during Haryana elections, where SAD was supporting INLD.
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