Newly-elected Punjab Local Government Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu is no stranger to controversies or the pitfalls in public life, neither does he shy away from courting them. However, the comedy show fame TV celebrity and former cricketer landed himself into a fresh contention on Friday by announcing that he will continue to appear in the popular show, Comedy Nights with Kapil, while discharging his duties as a minister simultaneously.
His remark stirred the hornet's nest, with his critics arguing if Siddhu did not consider public service a full-time profession. At a debate on Times Now, BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal leaders alleged that Sidhu did not come clean on whether he wanted to continue the TV show before elections.
As the opposition parties pointed out, earlier their had been reports of Siddhu quitting the show to divert his full-time attention to Punjab politics, ahead of the Assembly election but as of now, the cricketer-turned-politician continues to appear on the show. However, Sidhu's decision to continue the show after being sworn-in as a minister has reignited the debate around whether ministers and those in public service should be allowed to pursue other alternate professions.
Senior lawyer and Rajya Sabha member KTS Tulsi also appeared critical of Sidhu's move. He said that being as a minister Sidhu “cannot participate in the show as it would affect the dignity of the office of the minister", according to a report in The Hindustan Times.
Sidhu has come back at his critics stating that he has been doing television for the past 12 years and he remains a four-time MP. He said, "If my people don't have a problem, why are you worried?" Sidhu also stated that he could multi-task the show, which is shot every week on a Saturday night, along with his three portfolios.
His wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu came out in her husband's defence, stating that an "honest man who is not earning through corrupt means needs to work to run a household."
Meanwhile, mixed reactions emerged from Sidhu's earlier party, BJP. BJP leader Shatrughan Sinha appeared sympathetic to Sidhu as he said that he sees "no harm" in it if Sidhu can find the spare time. Citing his own example, when he was a minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee's cabinet and had worked in a film, Sinha said that in his opinion it all depended on whether or not the chief minister gives him permission, according to ANI.
However, BJP MP Babul Supriyo, who is also a singer, said that there is no harm in continuing with one's profession if it is done for a cause. Supriyo added that he doesn't want to be "hypocritical" on the issue as he himself is an artist. "He knows his duties, and we would also like to see how he manages both responsibilities," the minister said as quoted in The New Indian Express.
Sidhu, who was sworn-in as a minister on Thursday, was given the charge of Local Government, Cultural Affairs, Archives and Museums, and Tourism Departments.
Updated Date: Mar 17, 2017 22:28 PM