NEW DELHI/CHANDIGARH: A day after cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as Punjab Congress chief on the directions of party interim chief Sonia Gandhi, he humiliated his party, yet once again, by endorsing Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which decimated his own party in the state in the recently concluded assembly polls.
Sidhu congratulated AAP leader Bhagwant Mann on being sworn in as the chief minister of Punjab and wished he unfurls a new “anti-mafia era” in the northern state.
In a cryptic tweet on Thursday, Sidhu wrote, “The happiest man is the one from whom no one expects … Bhagwant Mann unfurls a new anti-Mafia era in Punjab with a mountain of expectations …hope he rises to the occasion, brings back Punjab on the revival path with pro-people policies … best always.”
Sidhu, who has been receiving the flak of the party leaders for such a humiliating loss in the state, has remained vocal since his playing days.
Oh Captain, My Captain: In 1996, when Sidhu was cricketer, he returned to India from England tour after he had an altercation with then Indian Cricket team captain Mohammad Azharuddin, leaving his team in a lurch. His erratic action had a baneful effect on the team as India lost both the Test and the ODI series.
Come 2021, after 25 years, the history repeats. Sidhu, the Congress MLA from Amritsar East assembly seat, again fell out with the ‘Captain’ — this time Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh over accusations of Captain shielding the drug mafias and going soft on political rivals accused in the sensitive sacrilege case.
Clearly, the ‘King of Laughter’ has a knack for making the life of his captains woebegone.
Bowled by his own “Googly”: After his rift with the ‘Captain’, Sidhu managed to convince the Congress high command — the Gandhis — to remove Amarinder Singh as Punjab Chief Minister, just four months before the assembly elections in the state. He, of course, was hankering to become the party’s pick for the chief ministerial face. He must have thought that his “Googly” had cleaned up ‘Captain’.
However, Congress surprisingly chose Charanjit Singh Channi as the party’s Chief Minister with Sidhu left to foam at his mouth and sulk publicly. However, the game didn’t end here as Sidhu took swipes at his own party’s government led by Channi.
As the results trickled in, Sidhu, who was nurturing the hopes of becoming the next CM, lost miserably from his own seat Amritsar East. The Congress was also routed by the AAP at the turnstiles. In the end, Sidhu was clean bowled by his own “Googly” and queered the ‘pitch’ of his party as well.
The Congress suffered a drubbing at the hands of AAP which posted a massive victory winning 92 of the total 117 assembly seats. On the other hand the Congress vote share declined drastically compared to the 2017 elections, with even Channi losing both the seats he contested. Sidhu lost to AAP’s Jeevan Jot Kaur by a margin of over 6,000 votes.
‘Philosophical mule’: As a batsman, Sidhu was a veritable steed, who rode the roughshod over spinners. A taciturn man, he let his bat do all the talking. However, as he himself confessed, as a politician he is reduced to just being a ‘philosophical mule’. While he enthralled crowds with his whirlwind sixes as a batsman, his untrammelled palaver as a politician fails to cut ice with common people. He fecklessly droned on during the election campaign, using coarse similes, but nothing he said was either meaningful or germane to issues related to people.
Lacklustre swansong: As a cricketer, Sidhu bowed out without a whimper in the late 1990s as younger cricketers such as Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly consolidated their positions in the team. In the last few years, he has burnt bridges with almost all political parties — Akali Dal and BJP — and has few takers within the Congress.
During assembly elections, Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu in an interview to The New Indian said that “personally, we have nothing to gain from politics except for people’s goodwill and wish to do something for the people of the land”.
“In fact, being in politics has pulled us down financially. Since 2004, when we joined politics, we completely put our work on the back burner. I used to earn Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakh per month, while Navjot was being paid Rs 25 lakh for one hour. So it is not easy to let go of such financial gains. So, if this time we don’t get our chance, then we are seriously contemplating on going our ways. We’d rather work hard in our professions and travel the world and do what we want to do, than be somewhere where our efforts are not being recognised,” she had stated.
So, where does he stand today? Will Punjab assembly elections 2022 be the swansong of politician Sidhu? Or does he still have some ‘punches’ up his sleeves? There’s a saying that people retire from all professions, but never from politics. Will Sidhu exemplify this axiom or will he write his own? Watch this space…
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