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The Rediff Interview/Navjot Singh Sidhu

February 17, 2004

Bollywood star Suresh Oberoi, television actor Gajendra Chauhan, who played Yudhisthir in the teleserial Mahabharata, and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the Bharatiya Janata Party at the same time on Tuesday. At the BJP headquarters in New Delhi, Sidhu was the focus of media attention because of his eloquence.

The former India opener hails from a family of politicians. His father Bhagwant Singh Sidhu was a member of the Punjab assembly and also served as Punjab's advocate general.

In an exclusive interview with Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh, at 11, Ashoka Road, Sidhu defended his decision to join the BJP.

People say you joined the BJP because you were unemployed.

[Laughs]: No, that is not true. I am gainfully employed as a public relations officer in the State Bank of Patiala. Then, I have very lucrative commentary assignments. So it is not fair to say that since I wanted to do something so I came to the BJP. That was definitely not the incentive.

Why the BJP?

All parties are the same, but it is the line of thinking which makes a party good or bad. The swan and crane both live in the pond. While the former looks for jewels, the latter looks for fish. A party that does not progress is not a party. Lot of developmental work has been done under Prime Minister Vajpayee's leadership. He is a man of principles.

The fragrance of flowers travels along the way in which the wind blows, but the fragrance of human goodness spreads in all directions. Respect has to be earned by your conduct. The work done by the BJP-led NDA [National Democratic Alliance] government has been outstanding.

Do you think you have made the correct choice?

(From L - R) Gajendra Chauhan, Suresh Oberoi, BJP president Venkaiah Naidu and Navjot Singh SidhuI have never regretted a decision I ever made. There is a thought process involved while making a particular decision. It is the constructive, positive thinking of the BJP that has attracted me to the party fold. It is a party that has galvanized progress and been a catalyst.

Look at the economic prosperity; things are looking up. In last five or six years the country has gone from strength to strength. The personality of Vajpayee is so charismatic and so magnetic that he has been able to carry the people of the country with him.

You come from a family of politicians yet you took a long time to join politics.

My dear Sir, I was playing cricket till a few years back. At that point of time I had to centralize the energy in one direction. You cannot be jack of all trades and master of none. I had to be a specialist, so my heart and soul was in cricket.

How long were they working on you to join the BJP?

This is not a fair question. It has to be a mutual decision where both parties benefit. I am not here for any benefit. Let me tell you that my joining the BJP party is totally unconditional. I have come here as a simple worker. I have got everything that God could have granted anyone.

Have you cooled down as a person?

Anger is like temporary madness; you got to restrain it. The more you restrain it the more wisdom you gain. The more I meditate I get calmer and calmer. Everyone makes mistakes. Kisi ko mukammal jahan nahin milta; kisi ko zameen ya aasman nahin milta [No one gets the entire world; some get neither the land or the sky].

Nobody is perfect my friend. You are on a learning curve; you learn with each mistake.

Will you contest the Patiala Lok Sabha seat?

There is no question of ifs. If my aunty had been a man she would have been my uncle. Until or unless someone gives me that responsibility I shall not comment.

I said my coming is unconditional. There is no question of asking something. These ifs and buts do not work.

There is controversy surrounding the Indian cricket team's tour of Pakistan. Do you think it is justified?

There is no controversy as far as I can recall. It is a matter related to the security of the Indian players, and the Government of India is well within its right to ensure that all safety norms are in place before the team goes to Pakistan. Mind you, millions of sports lovers were very happy when the Government of India cleared the Indian tour to Pakistan.

I feel the Vajpayee government's decision to restart India-Pakistan cricketing links is a step in the positive direction and the people of India are delighted about it.

There is a move to restrict the tour and not play matches in Karachi and Peshawar.

These are security-related issues. I do not think it would be proper for me to comment upon the security part in Karachi. There is a lot of good that has happened between India and Pakistan in recent weeks and one stray incident can spoil the good atmosphere. An unsavoury incident can undo what we have been doing for last many months. We need to bridge gaps. We have a great leader in Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji. He can convert weaknesses into strength, obstacles into stepping stones, disaster into triumph!

Image: Imran Shaikh

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