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After a year of silence, Navjot Singh Sidhu back in limelight with attack on farm Acts

Since his resignation from the Punjab cabinet last June over differences with CM Amarinder Singh, Amritsar East MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu had been keeping a low profile.

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Chandigarh: The furore among farmer organisations in Punjab over the Modi government’s three new farm laws has brought former state minister Navjot Singh Sidhu back into public life after a year of radio silence.   

Since his resignation from the Punjab cabinet last June following differences with Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, the Amritsar East MLA has even stayed away from assembly sessions — there have been four in the intervening months, including a single-day session in August. All through, he was believed to be holed up at his Amritsar home.

He emerged from the shadows on 18 September, weighing in on the resentment among farmers with a Urdu couplet, and following it up by a message of support in Punjabi and Hindi. 

Sarkarein tamam umr yahi bhool karti rahi

dhool unke chahre par thi, aayina saaf karti rahi.

Governments keep making the same mistake, 

They have dust on their face, and they clean the mirror.”

On 22 September, in another tweet, the former MP rued the passage of the farm laws by Parliament. 

Awaaz-e-kisan – Jinhe hum haar samjhe the gala apna sajane ko, wahi ab naag ban baithe hamare kaat khane ko (the voice of farmers – those we held close as an asset are now a deadly snake waiting to harm us),” he tweeted.

The same day, he released a 15-minute video message on YouTube, where he criticised the farm Acts and sought a common minimum programme to take up farmer issues.

All political parties in the state, he said, should unitedly protest against the legislations and ensure they are not implemented in Punjab. 

On 23 September, Sidhu joined farmer organisations at a protest rally in Amritsar. 

On Monday, the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, as Chief Minister Amarinder launched a farmers protest campaign from the freedom fighter’s village Khatkhar Kalan, Sidhu addressed farmers at his own ancestral village, Manwala, in Jalandhar. 

The rally was well attended and Sidhu spoke for over 35 minutes, unaccompanied by any party colleague from the Congress. He asked farmers to elect farmers as MLAs so that their voice is heard. Farmers, he said, should unite under the slogan of “Punjab ekta, kisan ekta (united Punjab, united farmers)” to oppose the farm Acts.

“When the country was dying of starvation, our farmers produced crops, but now when it has sufficient food, the Centre has passed black Acts to end the MSP,” he said.


Also Read: All about the 3 Modi govt ordinances Haryana farmers are protesting against


An uncomfortable relationship

Sidhu had handed over his resignation to then Congress president Rahul Gandhi on 10 June last year, making it public a month later. The decision was reportedly driven by Sidhu’s resentment at having been stripped of the local bodies portfolio and handed electricity, after the parliamentary polls last year. The chief minister had laid the blame of the Congress’ “poor performance” in Punjab’s urban seats at Sidhu’s door. 

Sidhu had earlier blamed Amarinder after his wife was denied a Lok Sabha ticket from Chandigarh.

The CM and Sidhu have always shared an uncomfortable relationship and the differences between the two worsened when Sidhu was invited by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, a colleague from their cricketing days, for his oath-taking ceremony. 

The Chief Minister was against Sidhu going to Pakistan and asked him to reconsider his decision. Sidhu, however, not only went to Pakistan but also hugged the country’s army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa when the latter talked about Islamabad’s intention of opening the Kartarpur Sahib corridor for Sikh pilgrims. 


Also Read: Modi govt’s three rushed ordinances can help agriculture, but not farmers


 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. State that sees 99% of its crops purchased by FCI is now fighting the same hand that feeds it.
    GoI should stop procurement from Punjab for 3 yrs and let Amarinder Singh take care…after all Agriculture is a State subject, let the State buy the farmers crops!

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