Navjot Singh Sidhu

Navjot Singh Sidhu (born 20 October 1963) is an Indian National Congress politician, television personality and retired international cricketer. He is President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee. Formerly, he was the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs in the state government of State of Punjab.[1][2][3]

Navjot Singh Sidhu
Navjot Singh Sidhu on the sets of Sony Max in 2012 (cropped).jpg
President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee
Assumed office
18 July 2021
Preceded bySunil Jakhar
Member of the Punjab Legislative Assembly
Assumed office
12 March 2017
Preceded byNavjot Kaur Sidhu
ConstituencyAmritsar East
Cabinet Minister, Government of Punjab
In office
16 March 2017 – 20 July 2019
GovernorV. P. Singh Badnore
Chief MinisterAmarinder Singh
Departments
  • Local Government Tourism
  • Cultural Affairs
Succeeded byCharanjit Singh Channi
Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha
In office
25 April 2016 – 18 July 2016
Preceded byAshok Sekhar Ganguly
Succeeded byRoopa Ganguly
Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha
In office
2004–2014
Preceded byRaghunandan Lal Bhatia
Succeeded byAmarinder Singh
ConstituencyAmritsar
Personal details
Born (1963-10-20) 20 October 1963 (age 58)
Patiala, Punjab, India
Political partyIndian National Congress (2017– present)
Other political
affiliations
Bharatiya Janata Party
(2004–2016)
Spouse(s)Navjot Kaur Sidhu
ChildrenKaran Sidhu (Son)
Rabia Sidhu (Daughter)
ResidenceHoly City, Amritsar
EducationH. R. College of Commerce and Economics
Mohindra College
Panjab University
OccupationPolitician, cricketer, media personality
Nickname(s)Sherry, Sidhu Paaji
Cricket information
BattingRight-handed
BowlingRight-arm medium
RoleBatsman
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 166)12 November 1983 v West Indies
Last Test6 January 1999 v New Zealand
ODI debut (cap 61)9 October 1987 v Australia
Last ODI20 September 1998 v Pakistan
Domestic team information
YearsTeam
1981–2000Punjab
Career statistics
Competition Test ODI FC LA
Matches 51 136 157 205
Runs scored 3,202 4,413 9,571 7,186
Batting average 42.13 37.08 44.31 41.77
100s/50s 9/15 6/33 27/50 10/55
Top score 201 134* 286 139
Balls bowled 6 4 106 10
Wickets 0
Bowling average
5 wickets in innings
10 wickets in match
Best bowling
Catches/stumpings 9/– 20/– 50/– 31/–
Source: ESPNcricinfo, 1 January 2009

As a professional cricketer, Sidhu had a career spanning over 19 years after his first-class debut in 1981–82. After losing his place in the national team following his international debut in 1983–84, he returned to score four half-centuries in the 1987 World Cup. Playing mostly as a top-order batter, Sidhu went on to play in 51 Tests and 136 One-Day-Internationals for his country. He came to be known for his six-hitting ability and earned the sobriquet "Sixer Sidhu".[4] After retirement, he turned to commentary and television, most notably as a judge of comedy shows, and as a permanent guest in Comedy Nights with Kapil (2013–2015) and later The Kapil Sharma Show (2016–2019). He was a contestant in the reality television show Bigg Boss (2012) and was seen in the show Kyaa Hoga Nimmo Kaa.

Sidhu joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2004 and contested the general election from Amritsar that year. He won the election and held the seat till 2014 winning also the next election. He was nominated to the Rajya Sabha in 2016 from Punjab before he resigned from the position the same year and quitting the party. In 2017, he joined the Indian National Congress and was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly from Amritsar East.

Early life and biographyEdit

Sidhu was born in Patiala, Punjab, India.[5] His father, Sardar Bhagwant Singh was a decent cricket player and wanted to see his son Navjot as a top-class cricketer. Sidhu is an alumnus of Yadavindra Public School, Patiala. He studied in Mumbai at HR College of Commerce and Economics.[6] Sidhu was elected to the Lok Sabha as a member from Amritsar in 2004 on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket; he later resigned, following his conviction in 2006.[7] After the Supreme Court stayed his conviction, he successfully contested the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, defeating his Congress rival, State Finance Minister Surinder Singla, by 77,626 votes. He is also the present president of World Jat Aryan Foundation.[8] He is a vegetarian.[9]

He is married to Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a doctor and a former member of Punjab Legislative Assembly. The couple has two children: daughter Rabia and son Karan.

Personal lifeEdit

Navjot Sidhu has two children. His son Karan Singh Sidhu is a lawyer. His son practiced law in Delhi. [10]He did his LLB from Amity university and received master's degree in law from Benjamin N Cardozo school of law of New York. Sidhu's daughter Rabia Sidhu studied interior designing from London.[11] Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan is one of his good friends.[12] [13] Sidhu has flamboyant and outspoken personality. He laughs loudly. He always wears colorful turban.[14] His wife Navjot Kaur is a politician.[15] Many times opposition politicians have criticised Sidhu for nepotism .[16][17][18][19] Fellow players from his cricketing career call him by his pet name Sherry.[20]

Cricket careerEdit

Failure on debut and success at World Cup (1987)Edit

Sidhu made his first-class debut in November 1981 playing for Punjab against Services in Amritsar. Opening the innings, he made 51 before he was run out, as his team won the match by an innings.[21] He was called up to the Indian Test team in November 1983 after he scored a century (122) for the North Zone playing against the touring West Indies team the previous month. He was drafted to the Test team as a replacement to an injured Dilip Vengsarkar for the Third Test in Ahmedabad. He scored 20 runs in 90 minutes before he was booed out of the ground upon dismissal.[22] After another modest score in the final Test in Madras, he was dropped from the team.[23][24]

Sidhu was recalled to the national team only four years later, for the World Cup. Making his One Day International (ODI) debut against Australia in the first of the group stage games, he made a 79-ball 73, an innings that included five sixes and four fours. India went on to lose the match by a run.[25] After the game, Australia's captain Allan Border had remarked: "When the bloke hits the ball, it stays hit."[22] In India's next game, against New Zealand, Sidhu scored a match-winning knock of 75, hitting four sixes and fours each, helping his team record its first win against them in World Cups.[26] Sidhu scored two more successive fifties, against Australia and Zimbabwe (51 and 55 respectively), and in the process, became the first player to record four successive half-centuries on debut in ODIs.[22] He carried his fine form into the Asia Cup the following year helping his team regain the trophy. He scored a half-century in the opening match against hosts Bangladesh before making another in the final (76 off 87 balls), receiving man of the match awards for both performances.[27] He finished the tournament scoring three fifties in four innings aggregating to 179 runs and was named man of the tournament.[28]

Return to Test teamEdit

Sidhu made his return to the Test side after five years, replacing Mohinder Amarnath, with a century in first innings of the Bangalore Test against New Zealand in November 1988. Batting for 295 minutes, he made 116 in 195 balls, an innings that included four sixes and 12 fours, punishing mostly the spinners, before he followed it up with an unbeaten 43 in the second innings, helping his team win by 172 runs.[29][30][31] His second Test century came in the Fourth Test of India's Caribbean Tour later that season. He made 116 while opening the innings retiring hurt 30 minutes before end of play on day one after suffering from cramp in the legs. Wisden wrote, "Batting securely despite obvious flaws in technique, he reached his century in 324 minutes, off 216 balls, and hit eight fours."[32] The innings was considered one of his best considering that the Sabina Park wicket was among the fastest in the world.[33] He totalled 179 runs at an average of 29.83 for the series.[34]

Touring Pakistan in 1989–90, Sidhu averaged 38.42 in four Tests,[35] with his best performance coming in the Fourth test in Sialkot. He rescued India in their second innings when down 38/4 putting together a century stand with Sachin Tendulkar while making 97. He was named man of the match.[36] Sidhu injured his wrist in the First Test of India's tour of New Zealand later that season, while facing an aggressive spell of fast bowling by Danny Morrison, ruling him out of the series.[37] He had a poor tour of England and Australia averaging 11.20 and 20.40, totalling 56 and 102 runs respectively, both three-Test series.[38] After poor performances at the domestic level, he was omitted from the 16-member side that was selected to tour South Africa starting October 1992. Ajay Jadeja replaced him in the squad.[39]

Sidhu was recalled when England toured India later that season. He made his third Test hundred in the Second Test in Madras, scoring 106 off 273 balls while opening the innings. He struck a partnership with Tendulkar who made 165 taking their team to 560 before declaration. India went on to win the match and the series.[40] Sidhu particularly attacked spinner John Emburey in his innings that included nine fours.[41][42] He aggregated 235 in the series at 58.75.[43] Sidhu was India's best performer in the ODI series that followed, scoring 287 runs at 57.40. He played two match-winning knocks: a 76 in Chandigarh followed by an unbeaten 134 in Gwalior. He received man of the match awards for both performances.[44] The latter innings followed after India were down having lost two wickets with 4 runs on the board. Sidhu put together a 175-run stand with Mohammad Azharuddin for the third wicket.[45] En route to his century, Sidhu passed 2,000 runs in ODIs.[46] After India's series-leveling victory in the final game, Sidhu was given the man of the series award.[47]

His first ODI century came against Pakistan in Sharjah in 1989 while his 134 against England at Gwalior in 1993 was his highest ODI score and the innings which he called his best when he retired in 1999.[48] Sidhu told in an interview that an article criticising his dismal performance changed his cricketing life.[49] After a string of poor performances in 1983, Rajan Bala, a noted cricket columnist, wrote an article on him titled "Sidhu: The Strokeless Wonder" in the Indian Express. It was an epiphany that changed his life and he started taking his cricketing career seriously.[50]

After his improved performance in 1987 World Cup, the same columnist wrote an article titled "Sidhu: From Strokeless Wonder To A Palm-Grove Hitter", applauding his performance.[51]

Sidhu scored over 500 Test runs in a year thrice (1993, 1994 and 1997). His only Test double century came during India's 1997 tour of West Indies. In 1994, he scored 884 ODI runs. Sidhu was the first Indian batsman to score more than 5 centuries in one day international.[52]

 
Navjot Singh Sidhu on the sets of Sony Max.

201 against the West Indies and retirementEdit

Sidhu walked out of India's 1996 tour of England citing differences with captain Mohammad Azharuddin.[53] Following this, he was banished from the team for ten Tests by the BCCI eventually making a return in the 1996–97 tour of West Indies. He scored a double century in the Second Test at Port of Spain, his first in Tests. Coming off 488 balls in 671 minutes, it was one of the slowest in Test history.[54] He reached his century on day two,[55] and after having scored only 94 runs on the third day, reached the double on the morning of day four. En route, he put on a 171-run stand with Rahul Dravid and a 171-run stand with Tendulkar. The match ended in a draw.[56] Barring the 201, Sidhu had an average series and aggregated 276 at 46.00 in six innings.[57]

Sidhu was dropped from the Test side for the series against Pakistan after a poor tour of New Zealand in 1998–99.[58]

He announced his retirement from all forms of cricket in December 1999. He played 51 Test matches and over 100 ODIs scoring over 7,000 international runs. He scored 27 First class centuries in an 18-year career.[48]

Known for his tendency to attack spinners, he cracked eight sixes in 124 against Sri Lanka in 1993–94, and four fifties in five innings against the Australians in 1997–98, deliberately singling out Shane Warne.[59]

Some of the nicknames he earned were "Sixer Sidhu" for his prolific batting performances and "Jonty Singh" with respect to his improved fielding in his late career, Jonty Rhodes being the best fielder at that time.[60]

Career best performancesEdit

Batting
Score Fixture Venue Season
Test 201 West Indies v India Queen's Park Oval, Port of Spain 1997[61]
ODI 134* India v England Captain Roop Singh Stadium, Gwalior 1993[61]
FC 286 Jamaica v Indians Sabina Park, Kingston 1989[61]
LA 139 Punjab v Jammu and Kashmir Gandhi Sports Complex Ground, Amritsar 1996[62]

Commentator and television careerEdit

Sidhu started his career as a commentator when India toured Sri Lanka in 2001. As a commentator, Sidhu was noted for his one-liners, which came to be known as "Sidhuisms". Sony Max that broadcast the games from the series launched a website, sidhuisms.com, where one-liners from his commentary were posted as "Sidhuism of the day" and contests held for users to pick his best one-liner.[63][64]

 
Sidhu (center) on Extraaa Innings T20 during IPL 2012 with Isa Guha (right) and guest Sanjay Dutt (left)

After he was sacked from ESPN-Star for swearing on air, Sidhu was signed up for commentary on Ten Sports. He also regularly appeared as an expert on various Indian news channels. Sidhu started to work again for ESPN Star Sports in 2012.[65] He was a part of the team that commentated for Sony during the 2014 season of the Indian Premier League. This led to a dispute with Star India who alleged that Sidhu had breached his 22.5 crore contract with them by working for their competitor, and sought a refund.[66]

Sidhu also figured as a judge on the television programme The Great Indian Laughter Challenge. He also appeared in other similar programmes, such as Funjabi Chak De. He has acted in a TV series called Kareena Kareena as himself. He was a contestant on the reality show Bigg Boss 6, and had to make an exit from the show on account of political grounds in 2012.[67][68][69]

In 2013, Sidhu was seen in the comedy show Comedy Nights with Kapil as a permanent guest until the show ended in 2016. He was seen as a permanent guest on The Kapil Sharma Show season 1 and 2 and Family Time With Kapil Sharma.

In early 2019, Sidhu caused controversy when he was interpreted as supporting Pakistan, in his response to the Pulwama Terrorist Attack that killed 40 personnel of India's border security forces. He was asked to leave season 2 of The Kapil Sharma Show that he had been a permanent guest on for a long time, and was replaced by Archana Puran Singh.[70]

Cyrus Sahukar used to host a program on MTV, Piddhu the Great, where he is disguised as Piddhu, a lookalike of Sidhu. The one-liners in the program, similar to Sidhuisms, are called "Pidhuisms". A similar caricaturisation was performed on season 1 of The Kapil Sharma Show by Sunil Grover.[71]

 
Sidhu (left) on Extraaa Innings T20, 2012

Sidhu made a cameo appearance in the 2004 Hindi film Mujhse Shaadi Karogi as a commentator during a cricket match.[72] In the 2008 Punjabi language film Mera Pind, he appeared in a pivotal role alongside singer Harbhajan Mann, playing the role of a non-resident Indian who returns to his motherland despite living a successful life abroad.[73] His most recent film appearance came in 2015 in ABCD 2; another cameo that saw him play the permanent guest in Comedy Nights with Kapil.[74]

Year Show Role(s) Notes Ref.
2005–2008 The Great Indian Laughter Challenge Judge [75]
2006 Kyaa Hoga Nimmo Kaa God [76]
2007–2008 Funjabbi Chak De Judge [77]
2008–2016 Extraaa Innings T20 Himself Member of expert panel [78]
2010 Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega Guest judge [79]
2012 Bigg Boss 6 Contestant Walked, Day 34 [80]
2013–2016 Comedy Nights with Kapil Permanent guest [81]
2016–2017, 2018–2019 The Kapil Sharma Show [82]
2017 Har Mard Ka Dard Monty's father Cameo Role [83]
2018 Family Time With Kapil Sharma Permanent guest [84]

PoliticsEdit

Sidhu won on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket from the Amritsar seat in the 2004 Indian general elections. After resigning due to a court case against him, he stood again after the ruling stayed. He won a by-election with a good majority. In the 2009 general elections defeating Om Prakash Soni of INC by 6858 votes.[85] This was what Sidhu had to say after not being nominated as party's from Amritsar in the 2014 Indian general election.

Amritsar is the place where my work and action speaks for itself. Since, I started contesting elections from this holy place, I have promised myself never to abandon this place. Either, I will contest from Amritsar, or else I won't contest elections.[86]

Reiterating that he has no opposition to the decision as he considered himself as Arun Jaitley's protege. However, he was firm on his stand of not contesting from any constituency while accepting the decision, wholeheartedly, announced by the party.[87]

Navjot Singh Sidhu took the oath as a member of the Rajya Sabha on 28 April 2016. As per reports, Sidhu was given the Rajya Sabha nomination in a bid to prevent him from joining the Aam Aadmi Party.[88] However he resigned from the Rajya Sabha on 18 July 2016.[89]

On 2 September 2016, Sidhu along with Pargat Singh and Bains brothers formed a new political front - Aawaaz-e-Punjab claiming to fight against those working against Punjab.[90]

In January 2017, Sidhu joined the Indian National Congress. Contesting from Amritsar East in the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections, he won the election by a margin of 42,809 votes.[91] Third on the list of nine ministers who were sworn in was Navjot Singh Sidhu, the cricketer-turned-politician who quit the BJP last year.[92]

As Minister of Tourism and Local Bodies, Sidhu did notable work under Project Virasat[93] to revive India's only handicraft on UNESCO's list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.[94] This craft of making brass utensils is professed by the Thatheras of Jandiala Guru area, which falls under his former Lok Sabha constituency of Amritsar.[95]

On 23 April 2019, the Indian Election Commission banned Sidhu from election campaigning for 72 hours for violating the model code of conduct. Earlier the Commission issued a notice to Sidhu for seeking votes on religion lines at a rally in Katihar district of Bihar.

On 14 July 2019, Sidhu tweeted a copy of his resignation from the Punjab Cabinet, dated 10 June 2019 and addressed to Rahul Gandhi.[2][3] On 20 July 2019, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Punjab Governor V.P. Singh Badnore accepted Sidhu's resignation.[96][97] Later, Sidhu openly criticised the Punjab Government about their handling of the Sacrilege Case, however the party termed it as a diversity of views.[98]

On 18 July 2021, Sidhu was appointed as President of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee replacing Shri Sunil Jakhar.[99]

On 28 September 2021, Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as Punjab Congress President. He sent his resignation letter to the party chief Sonia Gandhi. But high command rejected his resignation.[100]

Gurdwara Darbar Sahib Kartarpur CorridorEdit

In August 2018, former Indian cricketer turned politician and current Tourism Minister of the Government of Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu was invited to the oath taking ceremony of the newly elected prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan. After being attacked over his decision to hug Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army, Sidhu claimed that Bajwa had assured him of opening the corridor before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.[101][102]

Subsequently, Government of Pakistan in September 2018, decided to open the Kartarpur corridor before the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak for visa-free entry of followers of Sikhism from India to Pakistan.[103] After the corridor opening was confirmed by Pakistan's Information and Broadcasting Minister Fawad Chaudhry, Navjot Singh Sidhu appreciated his cricket friend Imran Khan for taking such a great step.[104]

In late November 2018, Sidhu came under controversy with a photo of Khalistani separatist leader Gopal Singh Chawla, a controversial Khalistani separatist leader accused of having close ties with Hafiz Saeed. Sidhu dismissed those claims and claimed "Thousands of people met me every day in Pakistan and clicked photographs with me. How would I know who Chawla or Cheema is?".[105]

ControversyEdit

Comments on the Pulwama attackEdit

On 15 February 2019, during an appearance on The Kapil Sharma Show, Sidhu condemned the recent attack on Indian soldiers in Pulwama, Jammu and Kashmir as "cowardly and dastardly". However, he found himself in a controversy when he went on to ask: "For a handful of people, can you blame the entire nation of Pakistan and can you blame an individual?"[106]

The comments drew heavy criticism. BJP leader Giriraj Singh demanded that Sidhu be expelled from the Congress Party.[107]

On 16 February, it was reported that The Kapil Sharma Show had responded by removing Sidhu as presenter and permanent guest, with Archana Puran Singh replacing him.[108]

Balakot air strikeEdit

Sidhu criticised India airforce's anti-terrorism operation at Balakot in Pakistan. He questioned by tweet, 'Were you uprooting terrorist or trees?' Sidhu questioned the purpose of Balakot air strike.[109]

Pakistan visitsEdit

Navajot Singh Sidhu gone to Pakistan for swearing in event of Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan. In Pakistan he hugged Pakistani army head Qumar Javed Bajwa. [110] Then Punjab Chief minister Amrinder Singh slammed him for doing this.[111]

Conviction for homicideEdit

In 1991, Sidhu was accused of assaulting Gurnam Singh and causing his death.[112] He was arrested by Punjab Police after the incident and had to spend many days lodged in a Patiala jail. It was reported that Sidhu had an accomplice who helped him in the murder of Gurnam Singh; the name of the alleged accomplice was Bhupinder Singh Sandhu. Sidhu denied all charges against him.[113] Sidhu claimed in court that he was innocent and "falsely involved in this case by the complainant party".[112] Jaswinder Singh, nephew of Gurnam Singh, claimed that he was a witness to the crime and was ready to testify in the Supreme Court of India.[114]

A trial court had discharged Mr Sidhu, but the Punjab and Haryana High Court held him guilty of culpable homicide in 2006 and sent him to jail for three years in the road rage case.

The cricketer-turned-politician and his friend then approached the Supreme Court. In 2007, the Supreme Court suspended Mr Sidhu's sentence and granted him bail. The suspended sentence enabled him to contest the Lok Sabha bypolls from Amritsar.[115]

In 2018, a bench headed by Justices Chalemeswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul let the two off with a fine of ₹ 1,000, because "there was no evidence to prove that that the death was caused by the single blow" dealt by Mr Sidhu.

In popular cultureEdit

A Bollywood film Azhar released in 2016, directed by Tony D'Souza, was based on his teammate Mohammad Azharuddin's life and revolves around Match fixing scandals in late 90s and 2000. Sidhu's character was portrayed by Manjot Singh in the film.[116][117][118]

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