Why Sidhu is out seeking 'revenge' against the Badals in Punjab

The ex-cricketer blames former CM Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Sukhbir, for stymying his fledgling political career as a BJP MP from Amritsar.

 |  3-minute read |   09-07-2017
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The ball’s in his "court" and he’s hell-bent on smashing it all the way into the stands. In his new avatar as Punjab’s local government and tourism minister, former cricketer and television host Navjot Singh Sidhu is having the time of his life doing what he has been long wanting to — going after the Badals.

Sidhu singularly blames former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Sukhbir Badal, for stymying his fledgling political career as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Amritsar. He also holds them responsible for queering his relationship with the BJP after the father and son reportedly prevailed upon finance minister Arun Jaitley to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from the holy city.

Sidhu’s conspicuous absence during "good friend" Jaitley’s campaign was seen as one among several factors that contributed to his losing Amritsar to Captain Amarinder Singh by over a lakh votes. While Jaitley went on to become India’s finance minister, Sidhu found that he had been virtually banished from Punjab.

But now, firmly ensconced in the state government, Sidhu is losing no opportunity that holds the promise of retribution. His latest, and perhaps most serious, offensive targets Fastway Transmissions, Punjab’s biggest cable TV company, which Sidhu claims, hugely benefited from the patronage it received through the ten years that the Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP government was in office.

badalsbdpti_070917111335.jpgSidhu singularly blames former CM Parkash Singh Badal and his son, Sukhbir Badal, for stymying his fledgling political career as the BJP MP from Amritsar.

Sidhu, as minister in charge of all municipal bodies in the state, has raised some serious questions on how Fastway conducted its business. Besides alleging that the company had not deposited mandatory road-cutting charges for laying its cables in various towns and cities, the minister stated during the recently-concluded Budget Session of the Punjab legislative Assembly that the firm was in default to the tune of Rs 684 crore.

This, he claimed, was on account of unpaid service tax, entertainment tax and sales tax, besides fees for digging roads and utilising electricity poles belonging to the state power utility. He’s also accused the company of underreporting numbers of cable connections to evade levies.

Appending a copy of his Assembly statement, Sidhu has written to chief minister Amarinder Singh, who also holds the excise and taxation portfolio, demanding that pending dues and penalties be recovered from Fastway. Although not fully cognisant of the matter, the CM agrees, “the company (Fastway) must be made to pay if it has fudged its numbers.”

Earlier in June, Navjot Sidhu travelled to the Harike bird sanctuary in Tarn Taran district and made a big show of halting the amphibious bus water cruise — a Rs 10 crore tourism project launch with much fanfare by former deputy CM Sukhbir Badal last December.

Insisting the Sukhbir venture had failed to attract tourists and was economically unviable, Sidhu ordered the bus off the Harike Lake, while promising to open an inquiry into the tendering process for the "failed" project.

While there’s no clarity on whether Sidhu’s allegations against the Badals will actually translate into formal inquests, you can rest assured that there won’t be any let up in the former cricketer’s continuing diatribe.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read: A new dawn breaks for Punjab under Captain Amarinder Singh

Writer

Asit Jolly Asit Jolly @asitjolly

Journalist with India Today magazine.

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