The recently appointed Punjab Congress affairs in-charge Devendra Yadav will begin his three-day tour of Punjab on Tuesday.
Former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu is facing flak from within the party over his much-talked about friendly hug to his sworn political enemy and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Bikram Singh Majithia.
Terming the new-found bonhomie between the two bitter rivals as “sheer political opportunism”, Congress’ Member of Parliament (MP) from Punjab Ravneet Singh Bittu said, in a tweet, “in a civilised world, even opponents shake hands but there is a difference between a polite acknowledgement and an effusive hug followed by announcement of friendship. This hug has hurt the congress workers who have fought alongside us against drug traders”.
In another tweet tagged with a photograph showing the warm hug between the two leaders on Thursday at an all-party meeting held in Jalandhar, the Lok Sabha MP from Ludhiana questioned Sidhu’s stand against Majithia over his alleged connections with drug cartels.
“For six years Navjot Sidhu ji has only said one thing in the rallies that Majithia drug traffickers has ended the youth of Punjab. Meeting in normal life is different from shaking hands but the Congress worker is very interested in Sidhu Saab’s attitude towards Majithia today,” he said in the tweet in Punjabi.
The Congress leader further said when “both political opponents fail to deliver”, then they plan to “dodge the public” by their “scripted actions”. “Politics is not a dirty game but many politicians play it dirtily”, Bittu said sharing the picture of Sidhu-Majithia hugging each other on the dias of the all-party meet in support of Daily Ajit’s editor-in-chief S Barjinder Singh Hamdard, who has been summoned by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) for questioning in the case related to the Jang-E-Azadi project at Kartarpur.
Sidhu and Majithia, who, over the years, were known for taking on each other head-on, everyone present at the meeting was surprised when Majithia made the first move by walking up to Sidhu when the latter was addressing the all-party meeting from the dais.
Seeing Majithia approaching him, Sidhu too moved towards him by leaving his speech midway and the duo tenderly embraced each other in the first sign of a thaw in their relations. Sidhu, however, said he still has his differences with Majithia but now favours extending basic courtesy, such as a handshake, even towards rivals.
In the past, the Sidhu-Majithia duo has had heated exchanges on several occasions inside and outside the Punjab Assembly as the Congress leader has been training guns against the SAD leader over his alleged connections with drug cartels.
The Sidhu-Majithia rivalry goes back to the days when the SAD and the BJP were in alliance in Punjab. Back in 2004 and onwards, as SAD’s key leader in the Manjha region that includes Amritsar, Majithia used to campaign for the BJP candidate Sidhu, who was “like a brother” to him, from Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency.
But as the two stalwarts vied for supremacy egos clashed, and both of them started getting engaged in a bitter tussle which saw the latter eventually quitting the BJP in 2016.
After joining the Congress party, Sidhu continued his tirade against Majithia and often blamed him for the drug trade in the state.
Brother-in-law of SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal and brother of former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Majithia – a three-time former Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) – left his home constituency Majithia (near Amritsar) accepting Sidhu’s “challenge” to leave his stronghold (Majithia) to fight against him (Sidhu) and make him bite the dust in the 2022 Assembly polls.
But both Sidhu and Majithia eventually lost election in the Amritsar-East constituency to Aam Aadmi Party candidate, Jeevan Jyot Kaur, a political novice.
Majithia and Sidhu were lodged in the Patiala Jail at the same time. While Sidhu was sent to prison for a year over a 1988 road-rage incident in May 2022, Majithia was lodged at the Patiala Jail over a drug case.