M A I N   N E W S

Amritsar Seat
It’s Sidhu vs Singla
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, January 23
Following an unprecedented Supreme Court verdict staying the conviction of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu's in a road rage case, the Bharatiya Janata Party today moved swiftly renaming him as its candidate from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, which he had quit last month.

He will face Mr Surinder Singla, Finance Minister in the Amarinder Singh government, who has been nominated by the Congress as the party candidate from the seat.

The decision regarding Mr Singla’s nomination was announced by the AICC general secretary in charge of Punjab, Mr Janardhan Dwivedi.

Earlier, the central election committee of the BJP had said Mr Sidhu would be fielded again from the seat if his conviction was stayed. “He will be our candidate from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency,” BJP spokesman Prakash Javadekar said.

For the BJP, seen as a lightweight in Punjab, Mr Sidhu has been a huge crowd-puller, mainly because of his star image and speeches.

In the last Punjab elections, the saffron party fared poorly, winning only three of the 23 seats it fought in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal in the 117-constituency state.

Earlier, after the SC verdict, Mr Sidhu said his future course of action would now depend upon the decision of the BJP high command.

Meanwhile, Mr Singla today told PTI that people were "eagerly waiting to call the bluff" of Mr Sidhu.

"Sidhu has been only bluffing people with his Sidhuisms and besides that he can be seen making noise at platforms, which are remotely connected with the welfare of people of Amritsar," Mr Singla said.

Mr Singla alleged that the BJP leader had never shown any concern for development when he was the Amritsar MP. "Rather he has been keeping himself busy in jobs which pertain to his own welfare", he said.



Two Malwais, both Patialvis, to cross swords in land of Majhails
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Two Patialvis, Mr Navjot Sidhu of the BJP and Mr Surinder Singla of the Congress, will battle it out for Amritsar- the heart of Majha. The two from Malwa will match swords in Majha.

The removal of the DGP, Mr S.S. Virk, by the Election Commission, had come as a shock to the Congress. The ruling party had not anticipated such a situation.

Today's decision of the apex court regarding Mr Sidhu has come as a another setback for the ruling Congress in the state.

The Congress high command had deferred the announcement of its candidate for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat awaiting the court decision on Mr Sidhu. However, this afternoon it announced Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla as its candidate.

Reacting to the court decision, the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said:” Mr Sidhu is like my son. I love him. And I am happy to hear that his conviction has been stayed”. The SAD-BJP expect the decision on Mr Sidhu will improve their electoral fortunes.

The stay on the conviction of Sidhu has boosted the morale of the the BJP and its ally, the Shiormani Akali Dal. The court decision has made the political situation buoyant.

On December 6, the SAD-BJP alliance had suffered two blows. The Supreme court had announced its judgement that no prior sanction was required for the prosecution of public servants, including Chief Ministers and ministers. While pronouncing this decision, the Supreme Court had dismissed the petition of the the SAD president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, challenging the grant of sanction to prosecute him in a corruption case.

On the same day Mr Sidhu was convicted by the High Court in a road rage case.



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