Hours after the Supreme Court convicted him for voluntarily hurting a 65-year-old man but spared him a jail term, Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu today described the 1988 road rage case as "an accident, nothing else" and said he has been a survivor all his life.
Sidhu thanked God for helping him during the "trying times" and expressed gratitude to people for their blessings.
A bench of justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul reversed the findings of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which had convicted Sidhu for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and sentenced him to three years in jail.
"Well, it was an accident, nothing else," Sidhu told reporters. He said the apex court too said it was an accident.
Asked whether he regretted the episode, Sidhu said: "A life was lost and everybody will regret it. But the court says it was an accident. I have submitted to the majesty of the law and whatever the court says I abide by it."
The minister said he was not nervous ahead of the verdict in the 30-year-old case. "I got up at 3 am... I meditated. I played with my dogs for almost an hour," he said.
"You will never see me cribbing and pointing fingers at others. I am strong enough to carry my burden on my own shoulder," he said. "The Almighty has always helped him tide over difficult circumstances. It is the grace of God which has helped me through trying times."
"I have been a survivor all my life. It is the grace of God which always prevails and bails me through. Every adversity has made me bigger and hence my reputation. From the age of 7 till 53, there has been no defeat," he said.
Asserting that he had no hard feelings against anybody, Sidhu said he has forgiven everyone who had criticised him.
"I forgive those who criticized me, who condemned me and made political capital out of this case," he said.
On April 12, the Amarinder Singh-led Congress government in Punjab had favoured in the top court the high court's judgment awarding three-year jail term to Sidhu. The chief minister had maintained that his government had taken the only legally tenable stand in the Supreme Court.
"I have sent messages to Rahul ji and Priyanka ji. I have stated that my life is yours. The CM sahib also called me up and I told him, till my last breath, I am committed to the welfare of Punjab," Sidhu said.
On the Karnataka poll results disappointing the Congress, Sidhu said he does not think Rahul Gandhi's leadership would be questioned. "Rahul bhai is a leader in ascent. He is a man of character. He is growing every day, evolving every day."
"2019 Lok Sabha polls are going to be a different ball game. You look at the allies, you see in UP and Bihar what is happening there," he said, referring to the political success the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party achieved after reaching an understanding for the bypolls held in March.
Sharing the philosophy of his life, Sidhu, who ditched the BJP for the Congress days before the Punjab polls last year, said: "The whole world is my country and all mankind my brethren... The desire in my heart is to see a prosperous Punjab".
"Truth does not see profit or loss. In a war between right or wrong, you can't afford to be neutral. Mission of Sidhu's life is to see Punjab again become the 'Punjab' it was during the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh," he said.
"I live Punjab, I dream Punjab," he said.
After the verdict, jubiliant supporters of Sidhu burst firecrackers outside his residence in Amritsar.
Like Sidhu, his wife Navjot Kaur also appeared relieved. "Our lives are dedicated for Punjab," she said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)