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CHANDIGARH: Cricketer-turned-MP Navjot Sidhu, who had announced to sit on a fast-unto-death from Saturday over stalling of development projects for his parliamentary constituency of Amritsar, called it off after intervention by BJP president Rajnath Singh and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.
The Punjab chief minister sent a fax message to Sidhu on Saturday morning, promising to look into issues raised by him. The BJP president also called Sidhu, urging him not to go ahead with the fast.
The Akali Dal-BJP coalition has ruled Punjab since 2007. Sidhu has been elected thrice from Amritsar on the BJP ticket.
Sidhu, who returned to Amritsar after six months because of cricketing commitments, blasted the Akali Dal-BJP government for diverting funds from Amritsar and not undertaking various projects mapped out for the holy city.
The Punjab chief minister didn’t take kindly to Sidhu’s outburst and refused to meet him last week when BJP president Rajnath Singh tried to sort out their differences during his visit to Chandigarh.
On Friday, Sidhu said he was going on an indefinite fast.
“I know what are my duties towards the development of Amritsar being an elected Member of Parliament. I will do my duty honestly without criticizing anybody and without speaking against anybody… I will sit on a fast-unto-death from tomorrow,’’ Sidhu said in a statement.
The mercurial cricketer added, “Party president Rajnath Singh has directed me to remain silent. But my duty towards Amritsar would never be stopped.
“Everybody knows why I am going to take such an extreme step and how my five or six major developmental projects including Solid Waste Management, City Bus Service, Multiple Sport Complex, expansion of Bhandari Bridge were scuttled.’’
Sidhu alleged, “The Amritsar Improvement Trust had Rs 160 crore funds, but no development work was carried in the past six years. Instead Rs 60 crore were diverted to others districts of Punjab with the aim to scuttle my projects.’’
Asking a judicial probe into diversion of Rs 60 crore from the Amritsar Improvement Trust, Sidhu said, “The decision to go on fast is my own.’’
It is being pointed out in political circles here that Amritsar strongman Birkam Singh Majithia, who is the brother-in-law of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal, deosn’t want Sidhu to emerge as a rival in the area.