Sunday, April 14, 2013

Navjot Sidhu may shift back base to Patiala for LS polls

CHANDIGARH: Sunday, April, 14 2013

Cricketer-turned-BJP MP from Amritsar Navjot Singh Sidhu may shift base to his hometown of Patiala following his latest run-in with the party leadership.

Although Sidhu and his wife, chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu, have been at pains to stress that they have now settled down at Amritsar, which has become his 'karambhoomi' following his election to the Lok Sabha, first in 2004, then in 2007, and again in 2009, his troubled relations with Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who is also the brother-in-law of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, have made life difficult for Sidhu.

His sidelining in the BJP power structure following replacement of Nitin Gadkari by Rajnath Singh as BJP national president may prove to be the proverbial last straw that broke the camel's back. Though Rajnath Singh has established contact with Sidhu and has tried to placate him following the public airing of his grievances by Sidhu's articulate wife, it is unlikely that Sidhu would be restored to the position of pre-eminence he enjoyed under Gadkari.

It is also noteworthy that over the years, Sidhu's popularity has been declining in Amritsar. He first won the seat in 2004 when he defeated Congress' seven-time MP Raghunandan Lal Bhatia by 110,000 votes. He was re-elected in 2007 in a by-election by nearly 77,626 votes. In 2009, Sidhu managed to scrape through a third time by just 7,500 votes.

With BJP leadership 'deserting' him, Sidhu will find it an uphill task to repeat his performance in Amritsar. Hence, the growing talks of his shifting back to Patiala where he may be fielded against union minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur. This may necessitate an exchange of seats between Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP with SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra no longer interested in facing Preneet Kaur once again in Patiala, SAD may find it convenient to swap Patiala with Amritsar where it has plenty of candidates to choose from for the party ticket.
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