Date, time, weapon declared.
Punjab's Fastway Cowboy: Sidhu is challenging Maharaja for a duel
- Agyakrit Singh
Punjab's Fastway Cowboy: Sidhu is challenging Maharaja for a duel



LESS THAN FIVE months after being sworn in, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and high-profile, motor-mouth, shooting-from-the-hip Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu are in an eyeball to eyeball situation. Excuse the hyperbole, but it is no less than Donald Trump versus Robert Mueller.

One is resisting investigating into la affair Fastway, the other is pressing on, threatening to expand the scope of his investigation and using all legal instrumentalities of auditing, legislation, cabinet meeting and tax recovery. And he is bringing in the "mother of corruption” also. 
In this Fastway versus Navjot Sidhu versus Amarinder Singh triangle, the power turf fight is being redefined. No more is the Maharaja unchallenged. With every new salvo, Sidhu seems someone who still has a lot of fight left in him, while Amarinder looks like a legendary wrestler of yore who has a reputation to defend but who cannot put as much power into his punches anymore.  

In the last 24 hours, Punjab's Congress government has come to a tipping point. Sidhu is on a "try and stop me” Fastway route. And let us stop mincing words: His target is Amarinder Singh.

If Amarinder Singh takes more than a day to respond to the challenge, Sidhu would have won the round. The former cricketer has now publicly said if he was to get the excise dept, Fastway would be facing an audit into its dealings throughout the ten years of Akali Dal regime. Translation: Amarinder doesn't have the guts to order an audit. I will do it in a minute.
 This is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken, fingers on trigger. Right now, it looks like Amarinder has forgotten his gun home. Sidhu is itching to shoot.
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Sidhu said Fastway has not paid Rs 20,000 crore worth of taxes. Add the earlier comment and update the translation: There is a thief, and I can catch it, and Amarinder is blocking my efforts. Now, try a rephrased position: Amarinder is helping a thief. I am the people's cop. Money involved is comparable to one of India's huge scams.

Navjot Singh Sidhu is playing a well crafted game. Sample his sharpest attack, wrapped in sugar and dripping with honey: "I need the support of the CM and other cabinet colleagues to take action against the cable company.” 

As we always help with the translation, here is a quick draft: The CM is not supporting me, and this is my challenge to the other ministers also. 

And then came the real threat, this time with the hour of the strike clearly spelt out, the arena named, the weapon declared.

Sidhu said on Friday, he will move an item on the agenda in the Cabinet meeting.
This is the race to be the next Chief Minister. Sidhu has already overshadowed Manpreet Singh Badal. Rest of the crowd is far behind.
Rana Gurjit is buried under a pile of sand, and Sunil Kumar Jakhar
is hardly a mouse that can roar. 
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This is a duel -- pistols drawn, hands on hip, 20 steps across, aim taken, fingers on trigger. Right now, it looks like Amarinder has forgotten his gun home. Sidhu is itching to shoot. 

"Amarinder heads the excise department tasked with collecting taxes. If the government passes an ordinance and gives power to my local bodies ministry, I will order an immediate audit of the accounts of Fastway cable network," Sidhu said. 

And then added a Sidhuism, the gold standard of his persona: "Phir vekkhiyo main ki karda uhna da jinna ne rajj ke luteya."

This time, we need not translate. And Amarinder knows it was no joke.

"I need strong laws to carry out my task. A ‘kamzor’ government can’t do anything,” Sidhu was rubbing salt into the wound he had inflicted. The cricketer-turned-TV persona-turned politician has done his homework well. Accompanying him were Supreme Court lawyer Vineet Bhagat, pursuing the small cable operators' case in court, and adviser to the local bodies department Amar Singh.

"Eh mehkama (excise department) CM saab kol hai. Je mere kol hunda, main taan puchann chaka deniyaan si.” 

Fastway did respond, and predictably: It called Sidhu's presser political vendetta and claimed all taxes were paid. 

Amarinder, too, seems to have responded -- by sending someone to ask Sidhu to please stop shooting. Denials followed, but point has been made. Sidhu is showing up for a duel, and he shoots from the hip. Amarinder is saying let us stay away from vendetta.
This is the race to be the next Chief Minister. The other man in the ring is Manpreet Singh Badal. As of now, Sidhu has shadowed him. Rest of the crowd is far behind. Rana Gurjit is buried under a pile of sand, and Sunil Kumar Jakhar is hardly a mouse that can roar.

"Aseen corruption di maa nu pakarrna hai, te mainoo pata hai Maa kaun hai." Don't worry, Sidhu was not mixing genders. He has stopped telling jokes. This is serious. 

The newbie is roaming the town, gun slung on his shoulder, looking for the mother of corruption and the sheriff is cowering behind a bunch of press release writers called media advisors. 

God bless the town, a Fastway dish hanging atop. Are you getting a clear signal? Sidhu is providing both audio and video in high resolution, and Punjab is watching all glued.
 
You may also like to read PUNJAB’S POLITICAL CABLE CONNECTION
 
 

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Punjab Today believes in serious, engaging, narrative journalism at a time when mainstream media houses seem to have given up on long-form writing and news television has blurred or altogether erased the lines between news and slapstick entertainment. We at Punjab Today believe that readers such as yourself appreciate cerebral journalism, and would like you to hold us against the best international industry standards. Brickbats are welcome even more than bouquets, though an occasional pat on the back is always encouraging. Good journalism can be a lifeline in these uncertain times worldwide. You can support us in myriad ways. To begin with, by spreading word about us and forwarding this reportage. Stay engaged.

— Team PT







Comment by: Raminder Pal Singh

The article is very well penned down! Kudos!

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