Sidhu has however been using social media to launch attacks on his own party’s government in Punjab, while avoiding long interactions with the media since his resignation from the state cabinet over a change of portfolio in July 2019.
“The system has been governed by two powerful families, who have controlled it, through officers, belittling the legislature. For what? For business interests,” the Congress MLA told TOI.
Politics is a mission, not a profession, said Sidhu. “I joined in after Prashant Kishor came and met me almost 60 times. I told him that I have an agenda – the power of the people should not be restricted to a select few for their selfish interests,” he explained.
When asked why he quit as a minister for local government in 2019, Sidhu answered, “There is no independence. One person controls it all. It’s alright if you are with them. Otherwise they stall their (ministers’) works.”
He explains how a proposal for five bridges in Amritsar he had put forth before former CM Parkash Singh Badal, was revived during the present regime. “The system said no.”
Sidhu talked about how he followed a “pro-people agenda” from the very first cabinet meeting, giving proposals to change the liquor policy, mining policy, and proposing a law against the cable mafia.
“My portfolio was changed because of my speech demanding justice for sacrilege in Bathinda. The system put the ‘Minister of Power and Renewable Energy’ plate outside my office. I said, “no”. I said I will reject the system that has rejected all of my proposals… I went back home, meditated and contemplated during these months,” he said.
Sidhu took this time to brainstorm, he claims, adding that Punjab needs a model inspired by Guru Nanak, not a ‘Delhi Model’ or ‘Gujarat Model’.
“After this, the system invited me for tea and then lunch and said, “take this ministry”. But I said no. The system said: “All of us want him (Sidhu) in the cabinet, he’s so dear.” What changed suddenly? Or is it that you want to use me in the election campaign and then put the showpiece back into the closet?” the Congress MLA asked rhetorically.
He added that his support would come without a post if the party fulfils the agenda, and that he was not be used as a ‘showpiece’ for elections. “If you do not fulfil people’s aspirations, no post will matter to me.”
Sidhu points at sacrilege issue being that start of differences between him and the party: “I went to the system about sacrilege. It is like someone hitting our souls. I begged for justice in the assembly, and released CCTV footage of the firing incident. I started and ended the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign with the sacrilege issue.
The system wanted to take action on this top priority issue in the past six months. When there is a threat to your position, only then you take note. Were you sleeping for over four years? Why nothing happened on power purchase agreements (PPA). Where is the White Paper?”