Patiala: Soon after walking out of the Patiala Central Jail on Saturday, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu slammed the Centre, alleging that democracy is in chains and institutions have turned slaves in the country.
He also claimed that a conspiracy is being hatched to impose the President’s Rule in Punjab.
Sidhu described Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann as ”akhbari mukhmantri” and criticised his government over law and order and debt issues.
Sidhu, who spent about 10 months in jail in connection with a 1988 road rage death case, walked out free on Saturday. The former Punjab Congress president was sent to prison in May 2022 after being sentenced to one-year rigorous imprisonment by the Supreme Court over the death of Gurnam Singh, 65.
His lawyer previously said Sidhu was being released earlier because of his good conduct in prison.
”Whenever dictatorship came in the country, a revolution came and today, I say the revolution’s name is Rahul Gandhi,” Sidhu told reporters who had been waiting outside the jail since morning.
”Debate and dissent are essences of this democracy, but attempts are being made to suppress opposition voice,” he added.
He said the Congress is fighting against oppression. ”Today democracy is in chains, there is nothing like democracy today,” he alleged.
He claimed that a conspiracy was being hatched to impose President’s rule in Punjab.
”Punjab is the shield of this country, attempts are being made to break this shield. A conspiracy is going on to impose President’s Rule in Punjab,” he claimed.
In an apparent reference to Sikhs, who are a minority community in the country, Sidhu said, “There is a minority rule in Punjab. Wherever the minority is in majority…the Centre hatches conspiracy (against it).” He alleged first a law and order problem is created. “After that, there is an attempt to control it and then they say, we have brought peace,” he said.
”If you weaken Punjab, then you will become weak yourself. No government can become strong by weakening Punjab,” he said.
Sidhu was wearing a sky-blue jacket when he came out of jail.
There were expectations that he would be released by afternoon but he came out of jail at 5:53 pm.
The 59-year-old’s supporters had assembled since morning outside the prison to accord him a grand welcome upon his release and they could be heard chanting ‘Navjot Sidhu zindabad’. Several Congress leaders including Amritsar MP Gurjit Aujla, former Punjab Congress chiefs Shamsher Singh Dullo, Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Lal Singh, former MLA Navtej Singh Cheema, other leaders Ashwani Sekhri, Sukhwinder Singh Danny and worker accorded a warm welcome to Sidhu.