Chandigarh: Former BJP MP and ex-cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu’s dream to contest Amritsar Lok Sabha seat seems coming true. Interestingly, this time he will be fielded by the Congress party. The seat is lying vacant after Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh recently quit his membership from Lok Sabha in protest against the Supreme Court verdict in Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal case.
It may be either his humility or the compulsion that former chief minister and Patiala Royal Amarinder Singh despite knowing it well that his predecessor on Amritsar Lok Sabha seat Navjot Singh Sidhu was strongly against accepting his leadership in Congress, the former on Tuesday declared that the decision on whether to contest or not the Amritsar Lok Sabha bypoll had been left to the ex-cricketer only.
Amarinder said this while indicating an announcement by Navjot Singh Sidhu on his role in the Punjab Congress coming soon. The PPCC chief also went on disclosing that he recently met Sidhu and got the impression that he was interested in campaigning for Punjab Congress in the coming assembly polls, but the final call on contesting or not was of his only.
It is pertinent to mention after the BJP denied ticket to three-time MP Sidhu from Amritsar in 2014 to field Arun Jaitley, he had got annoyed with his party. In contest, the Congress had pitted Amarinder Singh against BJP’s national stalwart who ensured defeating the latter with a margin of odd-one lakh votes.
After carrying the annoyance for more than two years, Sidhu first quit Rajya Sabha seat in July, where he was sent by party through nomination route as a gesture of compensation a few days back. Later, in September he quit the primary membership from BJP too giving strong hints to join Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
In between, he had launched a new political forum-Awaz-e-Punjab, and asked the like-minded people who wanted to work for Punjab’s interest to come together to defeat the forces which have ruined Punjab. While making the statement, Sidhu had strongly claimed Amarinder and Badals having strong nexus.
An Akali MLA from Jalandhar Pargat Singh and two independent MLA brothers Simarjit Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains had joined hands with him in the formation of the forum that was announced on September 8 at Chandigarh. The group that had come into existence for change in the system, finding not much support from the masses, started negotiating with the AAP within few days. It is learnt that Sidhu was demanding the projection as the chief ministerial candidate which the AAP denied.
Ironically, without waiting for the things getting mature, Sidhu-led forum also started parallel deliberations with Congress. Finally, Awaz-E-Punjab got scattered with Bains brothers joining the AAP and Pargat Singh entering the Congress fold. Interestingly, Sidhu’s Amritsar MLA wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu also quit the membership from Vidhan Sabha and BJP as well and went along with Pargat Singh to join the Congress.
Though with the joining of Navjot Kaur Sidhu, it was almost clear for Navjot Singh Sidhu also toeing her lines, the only issue was Sidhu’s declaration that “he would like to join the Congress but minus Amarinder Singh”, which was almost impossible for the party to go by at this juncture.
Notably, Navjot Singh Sidhu has not yet come out with his fresh statement on the issue it is Captain Amarinder who claimed Sidhu’s futuristic plan of joining the Congress party, with also unexpectedly leaving the choice to contest from Amritsar Lok Sabha seat with Sidhu only.
In reaction to the development, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said cricketer turned comedian Navjot Sidhu would not have any bearing in the assembly elections.
“You need to understand. Anybody who becomes a commodity by putting himself in the market for sale becomes a non-player. I have nothing against Sidhu. In fact, I always supported him when he was in the BJP. But by going in for bargaining with AAP and now the Congress he has lost all credibility,” said Sukhbir. The by-election for this one seat is expected to take place along with the Vidhan Sabha polls scheduled early next year.
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