Chandigarh, July 19: It was expected. The resignation by cricketer-turned-BJP politician turned national entertainer Navjot Singh Sidhu from the Rajya Sabha to join Aam Aadmi Party has finally resulted in guarded reaction within the party but the signals are too obvious. This reaction relates to Sidhu’s political career with communal BJP and likely demoralizing effect on the party cadre of his entry.
This first reaction has come from party’s Punjab Dialogue chief Kanwar Sandhu who himself was entrusted with this major responsibility of crafting the manifesto immediately after joining the party. He had been leading the team that initiated interaction with various sections of society. One can’t say whether that had the demoralizing effect on the party cadre. In case Sidhu joins tomorrow, there would be this precedent. He has also raised questions about Sidhu’s secular credentials in the context of his long association with the saffron party. This issue has gone viral on the social media along with his pictures performing havans at his residence.
AAP’s Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur has reiterated that everyone was welcome to join the party but without pre-conditions. He is an old hand whose political career span about four decades and he has been known to be aggressive on crucial issues and critical junctures.
Sources maintain that the Sidhu would formally join after a few days.
Except Sandhu, no other leader from the state has reacted even cautiously and everybody has welcomed him.
Social media is full of old videos in which Sidhu is seen lampooning AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. He himself had been under attack from AAP leaders. In one of the videos, he describes Kejriwal as ‘nautanki wala Arvind Kejriwal’.
However, this is normal part of the political discourse. In Punjab, Parkash Singh Badal and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra after the split would viciously attack each other. The chargesheet submitted by Tohra and then Akali Dal president Jagdev Singh Talwandi to Akal Takht in 1979 is perhaps the worst ever indictment of Parkash Singh Badal. One can open the newspaper files 1999 onwards when they split before 300th anniversary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa.
The best part is that it was Tohra who had advised Badal to pass on the reigns to his son Sukhbir Singh Badal way back in 1998 but Badal did not agree. However, after the split, he would attack Badal for promoting dynasty.
Within the Punjab Congress, Capt Amarinder Singh and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal are known for launching no holds barred attacks on each other repeatedly.
The issue now is of the timing of formal induction of Sidhu. His wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu has announced that she would continue to be in the BJP.
His exact role would be defined after his formal induction. However, what is clear is that there would be no change in the present arrangement.
The announcement about chief ministerial candidate can wait. Capt Amarinder Singh has not been formally anointed as the chief ministerial candidate. The Congress has announced Sheila Dixit as the commander in Uttar Pradesh. However, in case of Punjab, even without any formal announcement, it is too well known as to who would be the choice for the office of the chief minister.
However, these are not the issues at this stage. AAP has been a people’s movement in Punjab and the issue of a credible face crops up only when the clash is over personalities. The fight might take that turn but that would depend more upon the strategy to be adopted by AAP as the people in the state have always exercised their choice very assertively.