25/07/2016 1:07 PM IST | Updated 25/07/2016 1:17 PM IST

Navjot Singh Sidhu Says He Quit Rajya Sabha After BJP Asked Him To Stay Away From Punjab Elections

"How can Navjot Sidhu leave his home, his people?"

Ajay Verma / Reuters
File photo of former Indian cricketer and lawmaker Navjot Singh Sidhu (C) outside a court in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh 6 December, 2006.

Ex-Rajya Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu said he quit the upper house of the Parliament because the Bharatiya Janata Party had asked him to not get involved in Punjab elections, which is expected to take place next year.

"Rajya Sabha se isteefa is liye diya kyunki mujhe kaha gaya tha ki Punjab ki taraf mooh nahi karoge. (I resigned because I was told you won't look towards Punjab)," he said in a press conference in the afternoon today. "Even a bird comes back to its nest; how can Navjot Sidhu leave his home, his people? How can I not think of Punjab?"

Even though Sidhu did not say if he had quit BJP, or was planning to join the Aam Aadmi Party, or had any plans to campaign as chief ministerial candidate in Punjab, he said no political party was greater or more important than Punjab, for him.

"If I have to choose a 100 times between my family, my party, and Punjab," he said, "I will choose Punjab each time."

Indicating that he wanted to campaign in Punjab, Sidhu said that he won't "betray" his people. He said that the BJP had wanted him to campaign from Kurukshetra, and then from west Delhi, but he had refused. He said that he wanted to "serve" Punjab and Amritsar.

He said he quit after the party repeatedly asked him to expend his energies elsewhere.