Ground Zero: Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu lands in no-gains situation

Navjot Singh Sidhu during the 3rd ODI between India and Australi
Jagtar Singh
Chandigarh, November 24: Fourth time BJP MP and former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu made a wrong start when he decided to exercise alternative option in the political domain, a field that he could never dominate. Within days of his nomination to the Rajya Sabha as the BJP MP, he virtually triggered an earthquake when he quietly walked into the Chamber of Rajya Sabha chairman Hamid Ansari to tender his resignation that he jotted down on the spot. Now he is going to end up with the Congress going by the joining of his wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu.
Sidhu is the person who can easily lose his patience and as such, one can’t be sure of his next move, although his joining the Congress is now considered to be a formality. The timing would be finalised to create maximum impact on the Punjab electoral scene where not only every seat, but every vote counts in the three corner contest. His wife and Pargat have been assured Assembly polls tickets.
He had taken the step of resigning from the Rajya Sabha after meeting with Aam Aadmi Party convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. In his brief interaction with media persons after his resignation, he did not spell out his future but expressed his keen desire to serve Punjab.
However, the comments that he made at that media interaction are interesting: “ Navjot Singh Sidhu always wanted to serve Punjab and Amritsar…. You will find Navjot Singh Sidhu wherever interests of Punjab are…Issue is not of loss or gain. No party is above Punjab”. However, it is still not clear as to how is he going to serve Punjab. He might achieve his ambition from the Congress platform. According to the information available, the Congress would field him from Amritsar for the Lok Sabha. The seat has been vacated by Capt Amarinder Singh.
It may be mentioned that he had made similar hyperbolic statements when he announced the setting up of Awaz-e-Punjab in September first week that was a step towards forming a third front. He was in the company of MLA brothers Simarjit Singh Bains and Balwainder Singh Bains and rebel Akali MLA and former Olympian Pargat Singh.
He made a wrong start as Sidhu should have struck the deal with Kejriwal before submitting his resignation from the Rajya Sabha. He should have resigned only after Kejriwal made announcement of Sidhu joining AAP. The resignation should have followed. But then his ambition was to serve Punjab, one does not know in which capacity. The suspense continued for weeks and it seems, Kejriwal too, like the BJP, did not allow him to serve Punjab. AAP would have gained a face in Punjab with total commitment to the state! For Sidhu, the issue was not that of gain or loss. He had never announced that he was bargaining with Kejriwal.
Sudden turbulence in the Punjab political stream was witnessed when Bains brothers one fine evening uploaded the banner of Awaz-e-Punjab with picture all the four. The formal announcement followed. However, the Awaz-e-Punjab had kept its option open. AAP had split by that time with its state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur making exit following corruption charges. He too was in contact with Sidhu for some time.
He entered into verbal duel with Capt Amarinder Singh when information leaked out about his parleys with party strategist Prashant Kishor and Rahul Gandhi. Realising that his joining could be the inevitability, Amarinder finally changed his tune. It was former state party chief Partap Singh Bajwa who was the first to welcome this development.
Sidhu is good at theatrics. However, during his three terms in the Lok Sabha, his participation has been rare. He is not known to taken up any issue, what to talk of the sensitive ones, concerning this state. But then none can’t question his ambition to serve Punjab and Guru Ki Nagri Amritsar.
For years, it was the Akali Dal that would claim to articulate interests of Punjab in general and the Sikhs in particular. The Congress in the state had no such qualms. For the Congress, it has always been power politics, especially before Operation Bluestar, the army attack on the Golden Temple complex in June 1984.
The formal announcement about Pargat and Dr Sidhu joining the Congress was made by Capt Amarinder Singh late last evening.
One has to wait for the formal joining of Navjot Singh Sidhu to serve Punjab from the Congress platform. It is AAP that should be worried. He had wanted Kejriwal to announce chief ministerial candidate to which he did not agree. It is that situation that has now brought him to the door steps of the Congress. There is already no dearth of leaders in the Congress with similar ambition to serve Punjab.


Jagtar Singh


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