Is cricketer-turned-politician and former Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu set to leave the Congress for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)?
Going by Sidhu’s lack of response to the Congress for some time now and his wife Dr Navjot Kaur’s growing “liking” for Delhi Chief Minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal’s initiatives, speculation is rife that the Congress MLA from Amritsar (East) is in talks to switch sides ahead of the 2022 Assembly polls.
While the AAP leaders in the state are refraining from making any comment on the development, party sources said back channel talks are on get Sidhu in the party which lacks the firepower to match Amarinder Singh-led Congress and Sukhbir Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal SAD).
Sidhu’s lack of response to the Congress leadership and his wife’s recent criticism of the Amarinder Singh government have added fuel to the speculation that the former Indian cricketer is looking for a new inning.
With time running out and less than two years left for Punjab Assembly polls, sources said Sidhu is in talks with the AAP through election strategist Prashant Kishor and put forward his terms and conditions for joining the outfit which won 20 seats in 117 member Punjab Assembly in 2017.
As was the case in 2017 when he had talks with the AAP before joining Congress, Sidhu is reportedly keen on the CM’s post and a sizeable number of tickets to his loyalists.
Sidhu is sulking ever since he resigned as Cabinet minister in July 2019 after the CM, Amarinder downsized his portfolio owing to prolonged differences.
Ever since an annoyed Sidhu has not participated in the Congress party activities. Despite being named in the list of star campaigners, Sidhu stayed away from the Congress campaign for the Delhi Assembly polls.
Sidhu, who joined the Congress ahead of the 2017 Assembly polls after quitting the BJP, had shown a hurry to chart his own course in the party and gave more weight to his closeness to then Congress president Rahul than paying heed to the CM.
Heightening tensions between Sidhu and Amarinder became apparent after the former cricketer had said that his only “Captain” in the party was Rahul Gandhi.
Considered close to Rahul Gandhi and sister Priyanka Vadra Gandhi, Sidhu had been trying for his rehabilitation in Punjab but faced opposition from Amarinder Singh’s camp.