AMARINDER SINGH TO NAVJOT SIDHU — THOK DITTI TAALI

PUNJAB RESULT 2019 – Navjot Sidhu loses, Exit poll on, Amarinder Singh may shout Thoko Taali
- S Pal
PUNJAB RESULT 2019 – Navjot Sidhu loses, Exit poll on, Amarinder Singh may shout Thoko Taali



PUNJAB’S TOP CONTESTANT in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Navjot Singh Sidhu, lost by a huge margin in Punjab politics as his bête noire in the Congress, Captain Amarinder Singh, emerged as a giant killer, stemming the BJP’s country-wide tsunami in the state, ensuring the victory of his wife Preneet Kaur and watching two of his own party’s comrades – Sunil Jakhar and Raja Warring – biting the dust, ironically adding to his win over Sidhu.
 
Rahul Gandhi’s own humiliating defeat in Amethi has added to Navjot Singh Sidhu’s defeat in Punjab.

Sunil Jakhar in Gurdaspur and Amarinder Singh Raja Warring in Bathinda were practically the only two candidates for whom Navjot Singh Sidhu had campaigned, and Preneet Kaur was someone he had virtually campaigned against by asking the voters just hours before voting to teach a lesson to his own party men who were allegedly hand in glove with the Akalis.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and its superstar political campaigner Priyanka Gandhi had loaded a miffed Sidhu in their helicopter, bringing him to Ground Zero in Bathinda where the high voltage political contest saw Harsimrat Kaur Badal locked in a no-holds-barred contest against a venom-spewing Raja Warring.

How politically explosive the contest was could be guessed from the fact that the estranged cousin of the Badals and Punjab Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal had declared that the defeat of Raja Warring would amount to his political death. 

With the Congress fighting to win even the Leader of the Opposition tag, Rahul Gandhi putting up an extremely poor show in his own Amethi and the Priyanka Gandhi card coming up a cropper, Navjot Singh Sidhu would have to give up any hope of toppling Amarinder Singh’s apple cart in Punjab.

Given the current lay of the political land, Amarinder’s ministry is packed with Sidhu repellents. Five ministers have already gone public in the last few hours, slamming him and asking to stay within limits or quit the ministry. 
 
Sidhu has invariably tried to hog the moral high ground and few in Punjab politics will be surprised if he quits the ministry. Given the internal equations within the state party unit, Sidhu will find it hard to have a smooth ride. 
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Congress’ national leadership has ignored Amarinder Singh for a long time now but with the latest numbers, the Patiala Royale may extract his pound of flesh. Sidhu’s head could be demand number one. .
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Besides, Amarinder Singh has also been able to largely fend off the Aam Aadmi Party challenge, except for Sangrur where Bhagwant Mann has carried the day, largely due to his earthy, rustic, direct connect with the people.

Congress’ national leadership has ignored Amarinder Singh for a long time now but with the latest numbers, the Patiala Royale may extract his pound of flesh. Sidhu’s head could be demand number one. 

While it is understandable that Rahul Gandhi and his team did not ask Amarinder Singh to campaign for the party in other states either earlier or in these 2019 Lok Sabha polls, and that motormouth cricketer-turned-commentator-turned-comedian-turned-politician was drawing crowds from Bathinda to Bhopal, this super-sized importance granted to Sidhu has certainly left a bad taste in the mouth for many in the Punjab Congress. 
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Rahul Gandhi did not once congratulate or reference the Karza Mukti Parman Patars that Amarinder Singh doled out at events which were telecast live, but was quick to grant appointments to any MLAs miffed with Amarinder Singh.

Not once did anyone in Team Rahul Gandhi pick up the phone to say a word to 40 MLAs of the party who were going all out, gunning for Amarinder Singh and writing a letter to him, telling him he was not doing enough to catch the big fish involved in drug trade in Punjab. In fact, when the gang of 40 was gleefully sharing the draft of the letter with journalists, it was clear that the high command had indicated it will remain silent.
 
That equation will change with immediate effect now.

In fact, the rather peculiar relationship between Rahul Gandhi and Amarinder Singh, as seen in the public domain in the past, reflected an unsavoury track record. At one stage, Amarinder Singh had publicly said that Rahul Gandhi will have to grow a lot older to assume the party leadership and advocated Sonia Gandhi keeping the party reins. Also, the Punjab chief minister did not hesitate to publicly reveal that he had directly threatened Rahul Gandhi in 2015 that he was considering floating his own party. 

In a hagiography of his that he promoted unabashedly, Rahul Gandhi is quoted as saying that both sides will be losers if that were to happen and Amarinder's blunt response was: "So be it." 

Other big non-contesting loser, along with Navjot Singh Sidhu and Manpreet Singh Badal, is Pratap Singh Bajwa. He found his 14 minutes of fame on the stage, sitting next to Rahul Gandhi, but will have to wait for a long time to find another opportunity.  

Amarinder Singh shares a reasonably good equation with Narendra Modi. He has mended fences with Arun Jaitley. Having demanded bravery medal for the man who trussed up a Kashmiri citizen on the bonnet of a jeep as a human shield and slammed Pakistan’s Imran Khan and Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Bajwa, he has displayed enough nationalist credentials to not fall foul of Amit Shah. Going forward, Amarinder Singh may find a smoother ride in his relationship with the Centre.

Amarinder has never uttered a word against the RSS, never made it a point to join issue with the BJP about beef ban, or lynchings, or hatred against Muslims. He never spoke against love jihad or referred to the Ishrat Jahan encounter or the assault on JNU or the suicide of Rohit Vemula or the disappearance of Najib who still hasn’t come home.  Not long ago, Narendra Modi called Amarinder Singh a "swatanter fauji," someone who the Congress does not control.

Till 24 hours ago, Sidhu was being seen as Amarinder Singh's successor who was being anointed by Rahul Gandhi. The party was ignoring his wife, Navjot Kaur’s utterances against senior Punjab leadership. Now, political wilderness stares the Sidhus in the face. 

A report in the Punjab Today, a day before the results, had predicted that post-results, Punjab will see the launch of an Exit Poll within the Congress against Navjot Singh Sidhu if the results were to go in favour of Amarinder Singh. It is quite possible, given Sidhu’s temperamental nature, that he may press the Exit button on his own. It might be Amarinder Singh’s turn to say — Thoko Taali.

 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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