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Look at GST, it’s chaos, the BJP is floundering. There’s a turnaround. You can smell it in the air: Navjot Singh Sidhu

YB WEB DESK. Dated: 10/15/2017 10:36:59 AM

Why Navjot Singh Sidhu?
Former India batsman-turned-commentator-turned-TV star-turned-politician, and now a minister in the Congress government in Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu wears many hats. A long-time member of the BJP, he shocked the party when he resigned from the Rajya Sabha. He chose to join the Congress just before the Punjab Assembly election, after being wooed by AAP. He was elected from Amritsar East constituency, a BJP stronghold, with a margin of more than 42,000 votes. The win underlined his popularity in the state and sealed his position in the party
The Punjab Minister for Local Government, Tourism, Cultural affairs, Archives and Museums, Navjot Singh Sidhu explains why he joined the Congress, bats for Rahul Gandhi’s “clean-hearted” politics, accuses Badals of having run a gundatantra, and insists there is no conflict of interest in him appearing in a TV show
Man Aman Singh Chhina: Why did we see such a bitter fight in the Gurdaspur (Lok Sabha) by-election?
Loha lohe ko katata hai. Aag aag ko katati hai, kanta kante se nikalta hai. Jab saanp katata hai toh uska antidote vish hai, koi Saridon nahin (Iron cuts iron, fire douses fire, thorns are picked out with thorns. The antidote to snakebite is poison, not Saridon). In a democracy, it is a government by the people and for the people. What the Badal government (previous Shiromani Akali Dal led-Punjab government) did was make a government for the family. Thirty ministries were controlled by the Badal family. They are autocrats, they thrashed those in their way, robbed whoever they saw and assaulted anybody who protested. They ruled with a danda (baton). It was not loktantra (democracy), it was gundatantra. They ruled by fear.
Man Aman Singh Chhina: What led to your differences with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)? Was it something personal with former Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia?
I won three (Lok Sabha) elections in Amritsar (as a BJP candidate). I won them two governments. But when the Modi wave came along, they tell me to fight from Kurukshetra. Why? Because Sidhu would have won for the fourth time (in Punjab).
I tell Majithia, ‘You are not a politician. You are Sukhbir da sala (Sukhbir’s brother-in-law ). And you talk about me?’ I’ve played cricket for 20 years, ruled television for two decades. TV is merciless; if you are not good enough, you’re finished in no time. I have conducted 1,500 motivational speeches, charging Rs 15 lakh for each. I have done films. By the time I was 45, I had accomplished everything I had aspired for. I have done all this on my own. What are you? Sukhbir da sala. The people of Punjab understand.
Nirupama Subramanian: There are allegations against a Punjab minister, that he had front men in an auction for sand mines. As someone who opposes corruption, what is your take on this issue?
There was a probe (by the Justice Narang inquiry commission). The law says you are not guilty until proven so. My take is clear. The department is not with me. It is entirely up to the Chief Minister because the department (of Industries, including mines) is with him. The Chief Minister is the supreme commander. If he says it was a fair probe, we believe it. If it was my department and even if it was my son, I would have punished him. All are smaller than Punjab.
HINA ROHTAKI: The Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) wrote to the government to take action against former museums director N P S Randhawa (Museums is with Culture department, of
which Sidhu is minister) for facilitating the smuggling of heritage furniture and other antiques out of Chandigarh. What is the government doing?
The fellow is a thief. Crook. The DRI has written a 1,200-page report on how he sent them pictures of antiques, on how he transported them to America. One antique he sold for 3.45 lakh dollars. He sent pictures and sold our things to Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The Vigilance Department is not with me. I wrote to the Chief Minister that the guy be dismissed. This department should actually be given to the CBI for further investigations. That kind of greed has to be punished. I do not know what is happening on the Vigilance front. If nothing happens then I will lodge an FIR as Tourism Minister.
The Vigilance Department is with the Chief Minister. If anyone can order an inquiry in this case, it is the Chief Minister. I cannot do it. I have written to him three times


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