This is homecoming for me: Navjot Sidhu

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) A day after his formal induction into the party, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday termed his joining the Congress as his “homecoming” and said his fight was for the “redemption of Punjab”.

“I am a born Congressman. This is (ghar wapsi) a homecoming for me,” Sidhu said at his first press conference after joining the Congress.

“This is not my personal fight in Punjab. This (election) is a fight for Punjab’s existence, its self-respect…. Punjab which was once known for Green Revolution, is now notorious for ‘chitta’ (a lethal synthetic drug popular among the youth of the state).

“My fight in Punjab is for the redemption of Punjab,” he added.

He also said that drugs were a reality in Punjab and one has to accept that it exists.

“About 55 per cent of Punjab’s population is the youth. What direction are we giving them?” Sidhu said, adding that someone has to give them direction.

“One cannot have that ostrich mentality. Drugs does exist. We’ll have strong laws and rules to curb the drug menace in Punjab,” he added.

He also said there was a nexus between the politicians, police and drug peddlers in Punjab.

“Punjab has a debt of almost Rs 2 lakh crore. A government by the people, is now a government for the family in Punjab,” he said hitting out at the Badal family.

“Akali Dal too started as a ‘jamaat’ (gathering of pure) but has now turned into a private property,” Sidhu said.

Asked why he had not joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which was widely speculated earlier, and about his hard bargaining with the Congress that took him long to join the party, Sidhu said: “Kejriwal saab (Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal) had tweeted saying Sidhu had not asked for anything and he is an an icon.

“They (AAP) were not ready to give me tickets for elections. If I don’t contest elections, then how can I work in Punjab. I don’t want to become a ceremonial horse in Punjab. The second party was Congress and there was no other alternative,” said Sidhu.

He said his father too was a Congressman and took part in the freedom struggle as a member of the Kirti Ghadar Party.

Sidhu is expected to contest the February 4 Punjab assembly election from Amritsar East, part of the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency which he represented for the Bharatiya Janata Party from 2004 to 2014.

Sidhu said he would contest from whichever constituency the party asked him to stand from.

“I have no personal agenda. I am in favour of Punjab..I have no greed. Had that been the case I wouldn’t have left the ruling party (BJP),” he added.