Now, a turf war over Amritsar!

Amritsar, Sep 13 (IANS) The Sikh holy city of Amritsar is known globally for religion and peace, being home to the holiest of Sikh shrines - the Harmandar Sahib (popularly known as Golden Temple). It has now become a political battleground for leading names in Punjab's ruling dispensation.

The turf war is primarily between the chirpy cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), who has held the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat since 2004, and his legislator-wife Navjot Kaur on one side and the powerful Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and his equally powerful brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia on the other.

Sidhu, who remained "missing" from his constituency for nearly eight months, prompting an NGO to put up his posters around Amritsar, returned last week. His arrival was followed by an outburst against the Punjab government, blaming it for "scuttling" development projects in Amritsar.

Though Sidhu did not take names, it was apparent that his targets were Sukhbir Badal, who is also the Shiromani Akali Dal president, and Majithia, who is Punjab's revenue minister. Majithia belongs to Majitha area in Amritsar district and has considerable influence in the belt.

As the political dust raised by Sidhu's outburst was settling down, Sukhbir Badal landed in Amritsar and announced that the holy city will see a complete makeover by 2016 with a Rs 2,000-crore development plan. He avoided getting into a debate on the issues raised by Sidhu, even though he clarified on some of them.

It is now clear in political circles that the posturing by the two sides has its genesis in the political turf war here. The Akali Dal, which runs a coalition government with the BJP in Punjab since 2007, is showing interest in the Amritsar constituency. The Punjab BJP, which has its own issues with Sidhu, is keeping mum. It is certainly not siding with Sidhu at all.

Sidhu, who won from Amritsar for the first time in 2004 by a thumping margin of over 110,000 votes and dislodged a seven-term MP, scraped through in the 2009 elections with just over 7,000 votes.

"We see him more on TV shows than in the constituency. He has done the vanishing act from here for months together twice. No one wants to take him seriously now," Amritsar resident Balraj Singh said about the celebrity MP.

Seen almost daily on TV shows, mostly laughing uncontrollably, and giving his opinion on cricket shows, Sidhu even participated in the "Big Boss" reality show last year. He has tried to justify his absence from the constituency by saying TV appearances are his "bread and butter" and he cannot survive without them.

Sidhu has been at loggerheads not only with the Akali Dal leadership but also with the Punjab BJP leadership. He has skipped important party meetings and events, some of which were held in his constituency. He has been at loggerheads with the BJP national leadership in recent months after he was not taken aboard as an office bearer.

Given his recent actions, Sidhu's political innings could be headed for a dead end. Years ago, as a cricketer, he may have aabandoned his team midway through a series in England but that is not going to work in public life. The need to work as a team - be it in the party, with the government or with the voters who chose him as an MP - Sidhu desperately needs to reinvent himself if he is to survive in the political jungle.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

[REWIND] The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Moores gets second stint as England coach

Moores gets second stint as England coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Stressed Trott stands down again

Stressed Trott stands down again

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) on Friday confirmed that batsman Jonathan Trott is to take another break from all cricket with immediate eff… More »

PCB starts another coach hunt

PCB starts another coach hunt

The PCB has decided to not extend the contracts of head coach Moin Khan, fielding coach Shoaib Mohammad and batting consultant Zaheer Abbas, and has invited… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »