Navjot Singh Sidhu still very much in BJP: Rajya Sabha MP Malik

NEW DELHI: Notwithstanding Navjot Singh Sidhu’s criticism of the BJP leadership, a party MP from Punjab on Wednesday said he is still “very much in BJP”.

“He (Sidhu) is a very senior member of the party. And, he may have quit Rajya Sabha but is still very much in the party,” Rajya Sabha member Shwait Malik said.

He was responding to queries from the press at the Punjab Bhawan here over speculation that Sidhu may join the AAP.
Days after quitting the Upper House, the cricketer-turned- politician had made clear his displeasure with BJP and targeted it, saying he was asked to stay away from Punjab.

When asked about Sidhu’s criticism of the party, Malik said, “You may want to put this query to Sidhu himself. I do not have the prerogative to comment on this and it is up to the party high command to talk about it.”

Sidhu has alleged that he was told to keep away from the state to “serve personal interests,” apparently suggesting that BJP was acting under its ally Shiromani Akali Dal’s pressure.

Sidhu also said he delivered the prestigious Amritsar seat to the party during adverse circumstances but was “drowned in the Modi wave” in 2014, when he was asked to shift from the constituency.

In a brief interaction with the media on Monday, he had asserted that he will choose to serve Punjab “hundred times” above any party or family.

Malik, a former Mayor of Amritsar, demanded that a high-level committee be constituted to examine why “Amritsar airport’s revenues are falling despite an increase in tourist influx”.

“The annual tourist inflow has increased from 200 million in 2010 to 350 million now, but the airport is suffering a loss of Rs 50 crore,” he claimed.

Calling it the “rise and fall of Amritsar airport”, he had yesterday raised this issue during Zero Hour in Rajya Sabha.

“It was a profitable airport till 2010. But later, there was a conspiracy and flight operations were sabotaged as flights were gradually diverted to benefit the Delhi airport,” he alleged.

On tourism facilities in Amritsar, Malik said, “The Centre has sanctioned Rs 69 crore to the city under its Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) scheme and the Punjab government has added Rs 100 crore to it.”

On the Parliament video row involving AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, he said, “It must be probed why he made that video of Parliament premises.”