Embarrassment for Badal government as top functionary begins fast

Amritsar, Aug 15 (IANS) Punjab’s Parkash Singh Badal government had to face an embarrassment on Saturday when Chief Parliamentary Secretary Navjot Kaur Sidhu started a fast-unto-death, saying her assembly constituency was being neglected in terms of development.

Sidhu, the wife of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and a sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator from Amritsar-east constituency, started the fast near the Bhandari Bridge in this Sikh holy city along with her supporters.

That Navjot Kaur Sidhu chose to begin her fast-unto-death on the occasion of the 69th Independence Day has further embarrassed the Badal government.

“I have started the protest to get funds and projects for my constituency,” Navjot Kaur Sidhu told the media at her protest site.

Navjot Kaur Sidhu had, in recent months, raised the issue of neglect of her assembly constituency and non-release of funds several times but failed to get any favourable response.

Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a doctor by profession, is entrusted with the work of the health department as a chief parliamentary secretary.

The post of a chief parliamentary secretary is junior to a minister but carries most of the perks, privileges and protocol associated with a minister.

The Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP have been running an alliance government in the state since 2007.

On being asked about the protest started by the chief parliamentary secretary, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal dismissed the issue saying “the SAD-BJP alliance was an everlasting one and it was an unflinching bond”.

Former Amritsar MP and BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu had also announced a fast-unto-death in Amritsar in September 2013 to protest against the apathy of the Badal government towards the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency.

He was the sitting MP of Amritsar at that time. However, the fast was called off at the last moment after Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and then BJP president Rajnath Singh intervened and pacified him.

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