Chandigarh, July 25: Navjot Singh Sidhu is finally to join the Aam Aadmi Party after August 12 next. He would be launched by AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at a mega show at Amritsar as per the tentative proposal. Sidhu today severed all links with the Bharatiya Janata Party by attacking it for excluding Punjab from his area of functioning as party leader. He was specially instructed by BJP leadership to keep away from Amritsar from where the people elected him to the Lok Sabha thrice.
Sources maintain he appeared before the media today for the first time after resigning from Rajya Sabha after sorting out every issue with Kejriwal. A lot of deliberations had gone into between the two leaders before Sidhu quietly tendered his resignation to the Rajya Sabha chairman. He was nominated to the Upper House a few months back that was seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah to mollify him.
He was denied ticket from Amritsar in 2014 election in favour of Arun Jaitley, otherwise his mentor. However, Sidhu did not join his election campaign. His supporters voted for reluctant Congress candidate Capt Amarinder Singh. Jaitley faced humiliating defeat. Sidhu today said he was offered Kurukshetra or any seat in Delhi but be declined the offer as he had made solemn commitment to the people of Amritsar at the time of his first election that he would never ditch them. Sidhu otherwise belongs to Patiala but he shifted his base to Amritsar where he has built a palatial house.
It may be mentioned that he and his wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu who is Chief Parliamentary Secretary representing Amritsar East in the Assembly, have been launching blistering attack on Parkash Singh Badal government. Dr Sidhu is BJP MLA. It was Dr Sidhu who had announced that her husband would appear before the media on July 25.
He appeared at the brief interaction with the media unaccompanied by any other leader triggering speculations about his final decision. After attacking him on the first day, Capt Amarinder Singh had changed his attitude the next day.
Sidhu might not have taken any position during his three terms in the Lok Sabha on any major issue concerning Punjab but he is one person who can take head on Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Deputy Chief Minister son Sukhbir Singh Badal. AAP lacked a face to confront them. It is different that state party convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann too had been vocal critic of both Badals and Capt Amarinder Singh.
Sidhu made his brief media appearance after Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan announced action against Mann in the morning for his videography of the Parliament House and uploading the same on social media. This is being considered to be security breach. He is not to attend session till August 3 that amounts to his suspension pending probe by the 9-member committee. Further action would be taken on the basis of the report of that committee. His apology failed to soften the Speaker. This was an issue on which both the BJP and the Congress joined hands. The House has the power to unseat a member.
Interestingly, the common supporters of AAP have not so far been affected due to certain misdemeanors of its leaders as per the ground situation. This include the use of picture of the Golden Temple along with party symbol broom on the cover of its youth manifesto released by Kejriwal in Amritsar on July 3. The youth constitute the main support base of AAP but this manifesto was not even talked about as the party turned apologetic after it realized its blunder.
The launching of Sidhu from Amritsar is likely to balance that gaffe.
Besides, party MLA Naresh Yadav has been arrested by the police in the case of sacrilege of Quran at Malerkotla. He has been remanded to 2-day police custody and Punjab police can make a person ‘confess’ any crime.
The embarrassment over Mann issue including the complaint lodged by rebel AAP MP Harinder Singh Khalsa seeking change of seat might not have dented party’s support base much at the ground level in Punjab but there is a limit. Khalsa’s complaint is that Mann smells of liquor.
It may be mentioned that it was Chhotepur who had gone public with the statement that a person who has been convicted and the conviction having been stayed can’t be projected as chief ministerial face. But then Sidhu did not resign from Rajya Sabha just to campaign for AAP. Morepver, he has been elected thrice to Lok Sabha after his conviction was stayed.
These issues would be taken care of as he formally joins the party next month.