New Delhi: Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday tendered his resignation as a BJP member of the Rajya Sabha, giving rise to speculations that he may be headed for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is learnt to have offered to project him as its chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming Punjab assembly elections. Sidhu’s wife and former BJP MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu had left the BJP in April this year, protesting against the party’s inability to support those speaking out against the alleged misrule of the Badal family in the state.
Sidhu, a former Lok Sabha MP, had on April 22 been given the Rajya Sabha berth by the BJP, who wanted to retain him since he was the party’s most popular Sikh face in the state.
The Sidhus had been unhappy ever since Amit Shah became the BJP national president as their open outbursts against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leadership did not go down well with Narendra Modi’s protégé. The couple had enjoyed a comfortable relationship with Shah’s predecessor, Nitin Gadkari.
Despite the party having made known its displeasure with the couple for taking on the Badals in the state, Sidhu had antagonised the leadership by repeatedly targeting the Badals while campaigning for the party in the Haryana assembly elections in 2014.
Sidhu had also moved away from the party after it appointed Tarun Chugh, who was much junior to him, as a national secretary, a post previously held by the colourful cricketer-politician.
Although AAP has officially maintained that the Sidhus were not in contact with the party, many believe that Jat Sikh Sidhu is the perfect choice as the party’s chief ministerial candidate.
As the last Lok Sabha elections had shown, there are certain regions of the state, like Amritsar, where historically a Sikh has never been defeated by a non-Sikh. Given that the Congress and the SADhave projected Sikhs as their chief ministerial candidates – Amarinder Singh and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal respectively – AAP will not like to take any chances in the state polls in 2017.
As for Navjot Kaur, despite being a chief parliamentary secretary in the Badal regime, she never shied away from attacking the oldest allies of the BJP for their failure to govern the state properly.
Due to this, she too was feeling stifled and had declared that she would not contest the next assembly elections. With the BJP not making much out of her threats, Navjot Kaur, the MLA from Amritsar (East), finally quit the party in April. She posted a tweet the same day saying: “Finally I have resigned from the BJP. The burden is over.”
Perhaps Sidhu feels the same way now.