Sidhu quits RS, may join AAP

Sidhu quits RS, may join AAP

Sidhu quits RS, may join AAP
Less than three months after the Modi government made him a nominated Rajya Sabha member,  Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from the post on Monday, jolting the BJP’s plans in Punjab.

Sidhu did not announce his future course. But he and his wife, Navjot Kaur, who is a BJP MLA from Amritsar, were set to switch to Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for a bigger role.

Sources said Sidhu could be made chief ministerial candidate in the Punjab Assembly polls next year. Speculations were rife over Sidhu heading for the AAP  as the Kejriwal-led party needs a strong face to counter the ruling Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress.

Also, in the recent central Cabinet expansion, Sidhu was expecting to be inducted into the council of ministers. However, another Sikh leader, S S Ahluwalia from Jharkhand-Bihar, was inducted instead. “The people of Punjab are looking for a change,” Sidhu said, just before he resigned.

AAP’s open arms
His resignation was accepted by Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari with immediate effect and the AAP leaders were quick to hail him.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the “people can give their right hand for a Rajya Sabha seat. Ever seen a sitting RS MP resigning to save his state? I salute Sidhuji for his courage.”

“If he joins our party, we will welcome him with open arms,” said Bhagwant Mann, an AAP MP from Punjab and the party’s campaign chief. Other AAP leaders led by Sanjay Singh said Sidhu was feeling “suffocated” in the BJP.

Sidhu’s move came on the day Kejriwal visited the Golden Temple to revive the AAP campaign and make up for a setback following a row over the cover of its youth manifesto, which showed its party symbol, the broom, printed over the picture of the Sikh shrine.

Sidhu’s statement describing his MP post a “burden” was read as an expression of his resentment with the BJP.

“With the closure of every window leading to Punjab, the purpose stands defeated, now a mere burden. I prefer not to carry it,” he said. “In the war of right or wrong, you can’t afford to be neutral rather than being self-centered. Punjab’s interest is paramount.”

His wife, Navjot Kaur, has been vocal against the Badal government. She has often advocated that the BJP should sever ties with the SAD ahead of elections.

Union Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal and other Akali leaders did not hide their relief at Sidhu’s exit, saying it would strengthen their alliance with the BJP.

Sidhu, who had been MP from Amritsar from 2004 to 2014, was denied party ticket in the last general elections to make way for senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.

Amritsar was projected as a safe seat for Jaitley by the SAD-BJP combine given that the party held the seat for nearly a decade.

An upset Sidhu then declined to campaign for Jaitley, who lost his maiden MP poll from Amritsar to Congress’s Capt Amarinder Singh.

Since then, Sidhu has remained out of active politics and has focused much on cricket commentary and popular TV show Comedy nights with Kapil.
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