'Innings defeat' for BJP-Akali: Navjot Singh Sidhu on Gurdaspur win
Punjab cabinet minister and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu on Sunday likened the Congress' victory in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll to winning a Test cricket match by an innings and said it would have a demoralising effect on the BJP-SAD combine.
Congress candidate Sunil Jakhar won the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat by defeating his nearest rival, BJP nominee Swaran Salaria with a margin of 1,93,219 votes. Jakhar polled 4,99,752 votes while Salaria polled 3,06,533, an election official said.
Sidhu said, "This win is a big slap on the face of jija-sala (Sukhbir Badal-Bikram Majithia). Today, the BJP will feel that the Akali Dal in Punjab, especially the jija-sala, have become a burden. Time and again people have reprimanded them and sent them back," he said, adding the Akalis were like an albatross around the BJP's neck.
Sidhu, who switched over to Congress from the BJP just before the Punjab Assembly polls, said, "We have sent a beautiful Diwali gift packed with red ribbon to our (Congress) would-be president Rahul Gandhi because it sets the tone... It will be a shot in the arm for the Congress."
"This win is not small, this is huge. When a (cricket) team loses by five runs or by a narrow margin, it still stands up to put a fight in another contest. But when somebody loses by 400 runs or suffers an innings defeat, it breaks the back. It is an innings defeat for them (SAD-BJP combine). It is a demoralising defeat for them, it has sent them packing," he said.
On the fact that the Congress' win in Gurdaspur bypoll would not make much difference to the NDA tally in the Lok Sabha numerically, Sidhu said, "The mental scars will remain because it is a mental game."
"Gurdaspur was considered an Akali-BJP bastion. Of the four times we fought the elections, Vinod ji (late Vinod Khanna of the BJP) won four times. And when we (Congress) won once, it was by a very thin margin. So, this (today's result) is a signal sent across, loud and clear," the Punjab minister said.
"When Sonia (Gandhi) ji had power, she passed it on to Manmohan Singh (who became the Prime Minister)... when she did not have power (when the party is out of power) and when the time came to fight, she put her son Rahul Gandhi ahead. This is what is special about a true leader. When the times are hard, the leader stands like a rock to face it and when times are good, gives credit to workers," Sidhu said.