Congress state unit President Navjot Singh Sidhu, once a Chief Minister aspirant in Punjab, was bowled out from the politics, for the time being, with his humiliating defeat from his stronghold Amritsar (East) seat in Punjab.He was locked in a high-profile contest with Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia but faced defeat from the hands of AAP greenhorn candidate Jeevanjyot Kaur, who defeated him by a margin of 6,750 votes.Low-profile menstrual hygiene activist Kaur, who believed in door-to-door connect with electorate, emerged as the 'giant slayer' by showing the door to two political heavyweights Sidhu and Majithia, who were busy in mudslinging against each other.In 2017, the cricketer-turned-politician not only defeated his BJP rival Rajesh Honey with a big margin of over 42,000 votes but also played a role of a game-changer for the party by winning 10 out of 11 seats in Amritsar district, once the citadel of the SAD-BJP combine.Kaur got total votes of 39,679, while Sidhu polled 32,929 votes. Sidhu's archrival Bikram Singh Majithia, one of the most powerful Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders, who left his stronghold Majitha seat to throw down the gauntlet to Sidhu, finished at the third spot with 25,188 votes.The former Akali minister's wife Ganieve Kaur contested from Majithia assembly segment in his place and won it.SAD President Sukhbir Badal in an exclusive interview ahead of the poling told IANS that "Sidhu's arrogance will be his undoing".
"We were determined to break Navjot Sidhu's arrogance and teach him to love and respect his constituents. We believed it was our duty to engage him and give the people an option for development of their constituency. The Sidhu couple has ignored Amritsar East for the last 18 years. It is one of the most undeveloped constituencies in the state," Badal had said.After losing polls, Sidhu, who is facing criticism even from within the party, said, "People who dug holes for me, are now buried 10 feet under...everyone can see that.""Let bygones be bygones...People have voted for AAP for a change, I congratulate them... New seeds have to be sown... not 'chinta' (worries) but 'chintan' (introspection) should be done," he told the media in Amritsar.Considered a Congress stronghold, Amritsar (East), the seat that came into being after 2012 delimitation, had backed Sidhu and his namesake wife -- Navjot Kaur.Sidhu is a three-time Amritsar MP from the BJP. In 2014 he "sacrificed" this seat for his 'guru' Arun Jaitley. Later he was adjusted in the Rajya Sabha by the BJP but not finding a bigger role in Punjab, he quit the party and resigned from Parliament.Conceding his defeat, Sidhu in a tweet said, "The voice of the people is the voice of God. Humbly accept the mandate of the people of Punjab. Congratulations to AAP."After his political fall, Sidhu will now find it tough to say his catchphrase 'thoko tali' (clap your hands).Ahead of Congress clearing the name of Charanjit Singh Channi as the chief ministerial candidate, Sidhu had been toeing his 'self-proclaimed' Punjab Model agenda with the promise of creating corporations in the state to stop pilferage of revenue from liquor and mining.
On his Punjab Model, not part of the party's manifesto as rivals within the party were gunning for him for being unrealistic, Sidhu had been saying that he would answer them when he would deem fit.
Sidhu, who was not averse to even sharp criticism of his own party and its policies and leaders in the run-up to the polls, was firm on his stand that it was the people who will elect the MLAs and choose their chief minister, not the party's central leadership.Seeking freedom to take decisions, Sidhu, who is seen by his party leaders neither a Congress veteran nor enjoys a mass base, had categorically told the Gandhi scion at a virtual rally in Jalandhar that give him the power to make a decision as he did not want to be kept as a 'showcase horse'.Indulging into the blame game, Lok Sabha Congress MP Jasbir Singh Gill said infighting, indiscipline, workers disenchantment, inflated ego, and arrogance of leaders have mauled the party in the state.With the defeat of Congress stalwarts, a joke is making waves in the social media, saying, "A wave of happiness in Congress over election results. Rahul Gandhi is happy that Captain Amarinder cut to size. Capt is happy that Sidhu hasn't won and Cong lost. Sidhu is happy that Channi and Amarinder lost. Channi is happy as Sidhu lost."Now the big question is: Will the Congress manage to play a crucial role in the state politics as the main opposition without seasoned leadership? Only time will reveal, remarked a senior Congress leader. Till then 'thoko tali'.