THE TRIBUNE INTERVIEW

‘Not an outsider, I belong to a family of diehard Congress men’

Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu on the political crisis being faced by the state Congress

Amid the brainstorming by the party high command to end the crisis in the Punjab Congress, former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday asserted that he was as much a traditional Congress man as any of his detractors within the party. Talking to Rajmeet Singh, he questioned CM Capt Amarinder Singh on his failure to deliver justice in the Bargari and Kotkapura police firing cases. Excerpts:

There are reports you are keen on PPCC president’s post. Your response?

There is no truth in these reports. In 17 years of my political career, I have never sought any position. It is nothing but a bid to divert attention from the real issues. I joined the Congress in 2016 on the assurance that my pro-people agenda would be fulfilled. Prashant Kishor met me many times in this regard. The corrupt system controlled by two power families in the state is not allowing any change, but I will not give up.

Your detractors call you an ‘outsider’. What do have to say?

My father and mother were Congress leaders. They devoted 42 years of their life to the party. Who is the CM to slam the door on me? Is he the Congress? I have never received a response to any of my tweets on issues such as the sacrilege cases, sand mafia, transport mafia and the big fish involved in the drug trade. I am not a ‘showpiece’ to be used for campaigning and winning elections. Post government formation, the real issues were put on the back burner.

What is your agenda?

It is to end the loot of public money. I am willing to become a zila parishad member and stand behind the CM if my 13-point agenda on development is implemented. Let them make sand cheaper by crushing the mining mafia, remove the parity in taxes between the government-run buses and those ‘illegally’ run by the Badals. I began my fight at the very first Cabinet meeting. The two powerful political families have belittled the legislature by according priority to the bureaucracy.

What do you think is the solution to the Punjab Congress crisis?

The party high command knows best what is good for Punjab. I am no one to comment. I was twice called by the CM and offered a Cabinet berth. Both times, I refused the offer. My sole agenda is Punjab’s development. For over four years, they did nothing on the poll promises, deliberately keeping the matter pending till the last. Why were the promises made to the people not fulfilled in the first year of governance?

What do you have to say on jobs for kin of MLAs?

Jobs should be given only on merit. The move is against the Constitution. Instead of protecting their chair, they should ensure that the last man in the queue gets justice. My son was offered the post of Assistant Advocate General and wife the top position in the Warehousing Corporation. We rejected both offers.

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