Disgruntled Punjab Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal traded (colourful) barbs on Wednesday; Mr Badal called Navjot Sidhu a “misguided missile” and the former cricketer, who is rarely at a loss for words, shot back “… guided and aimed to destroy you”.
“Navjot Singh Sidhu is a misguided missile that is not under control, can hit in any direction including himself. Today, Punjab doesn’t need a person who does acting but one who thinks about the development of the state,” Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal was quoted by news agency ANI.
Mr Sidhu replied: “Guided and aimed at you to destroy your corrupt businesses … Until your Sukh Vilas (which is) built on Punjab’s ruins is not turned into a public school and public hospital to serve Punjab’s poor, I won’t relent!!”
Guided and aimed at you to destroy your corrupt businesses … Until your Sukh Vilas built on Punjab’s ruins is not turned into a Public School & Public Hospital to serve Punjab’s poor, I won’t relent !! https://t.co/WKXOmJKMoB
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) June 30, 2021
The back-and-forth comes after Mr Sidhu slammed Mr Badal over his comment on the 2015 case involving the desecration of the Sikh religious text and police firing during peaceful protests.
Last week Mr Badal, who was Deputy Chief Minister and the Home Minister in the Akali Dal-BJP government that was in power at the time, was questioned by a newly-formed SIT.
He had earlier accused current Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, of implicating Akali Dal leadership in false cases at the alleged instance of Congress MP Rahul Gandhi.
Mr Sidhu took the opportunity for a double swipe – at Mr Badal and Amarinder Singh, with whom he is locked in a feud that threatens to derail the Congress’ bid for re-election.
He said: “Six years since sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib…. No Justice in two years of your rule. No justice in the following 4.5 years… Today, new SIT inches closer to justice for Punjab’s soul and you cry of political interference… Political interference was that which delayed Justice by six years.”
Mr Sidhu, who quit the Punjab cabinet in 2019 after an alleged downgrade to his role, has been locked in a prolonged dispute with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ahead of the 2022 election.
He is among a handful of state Congress leaders who have revolted against Mr Singh’s leadership, with legal setbacks to the 2015 desecration and police firing case among the key triggers. Mr Sidhu and others have said the Amarinder Singh government did not do enough to ensure justice.
Last week, Mr Sidhu, a former BJP leader who joined the Congress in 2017, told NDTV he was ready to work with Mr Singh but only if he met promises made to the people before the last election.
Earlier today he posted a photo of himself meeting Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. The details of the meeting are not known yet.
Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi have stepped in to try and bring the party’s feuding leaders in Punjab together ahead of elections next year.
A panel of three Congress leaders tasked with taking feedback from MLAs, MPs and leaders from Punjab and recommend a solution has called for changes in the state government as well as party unit ahead of the assembly polls.
Mr Singh has slammed Mr Sidhu over his relentless offensive and has complained to the party leadership about what he calls “total indiscipline” by the cricketer-turned-politician.
Mr Sidhu has refuted allegations that he damaging the party in one of the few states where it was in power on its own steam. “It is damaging if you address issues like sacrilege? Every MLA is raising this issue. All 78 MLAs are with me,” he questioned last week.