The Aam Aadmi Party leader said that he would continue to respect Navjot Singh Sidhu irrespective of whether he chose to join the party or not.
Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal on Friday revealed through a series of tweets that he had met former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu last week. While he did not reveal what exactly transpired between them, Kejriwal did disclose enough information to indicate that Sidhu failed to have his way in his attempt to drive a hard bargain.
The cricketer-turned-politician had resigned as a member of the Rajya Sabha last month in the hopes that the AAP would make him its chief ministerial candidate for the Punjab elections.
Kejriwal said that there were a lot of rumours surrounding whether Sidhu would join his party or not and even though he admitted to have met the cricketer, he said that Sidhu had not stipulated any preconditions. At the same time, Kejriwal insisted that Sidhu needed time to take a decision and he respected that.
If there were indeed no preconditions, then why would Sidhu need more time remains the obvious question.
Finally, as if deliberately letting it slip, Kejriwal conveyed his respect for Sidhu would continue irrespective of whether he chose to join the party or not.
This development comes within days of heightened expectations among a section of AAP that Sidhu would join the party around Independence Day and would lead the party’s campaign in Punjab.
On the first day of the monsoon session of the parliament on July 18, Sidhu caught everyone by surprise with his announcement to resign his Rajya Sabha membership. He made known his dissatisfaction with the BJP’s central leadership for its failure to stand up to the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) in Punjab. His announcement immediately led to speculations that he would move over to AAP.
Even though Sidhu did not elaborate on his decision at the time, his wife, Navjot Kaur, a BJP MLA who is equally vocal against the Badal, made it known that Sidhu – who had won two Lok Sabha elections and a by-election from Amritsar – was unhappy with the party that he represented.
Sidhu had, in fact, also refused to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP finally mollified him and got him elected to the Upper House on April 28 of this year. But, barely 80 days later, he gave up the seat.
Soon after Sidhu’s resignation, Kaur also revealed that joining AAP remained the only option for him. Sidhu, however, appears to have made up his mind that he would join the party only after he was assured a chief ministerial berth. He probably took the advise of Harinder Singh Khalsa and Dharamvir Gandhi – expelled party MPs from the state – quite seriously. They had cautioned him soon after his resignation that he “must not forget the AAP’s habit of dumping old faces every few months and then shopping for new ones.”
Though Sidhu distanced himself from the BJP in a huff and in the hopes that AAP would project him as its chief ministerial candidate, his calculations were probably not accurate.
AAP was on an upswing and there were simply too many suitors for the chief minister’s post.
With a number of party leaders eyeing that post, Sidhu soon realised what exactly he was up against. Soon after he resigned his Rajya Sabha seat, the AAP incharge of the state, Sanjay Singh, stated that a decision about his role in the party would be taken only after he had joined it.
As Independence Day grew nearer, so did the expectations around Sidhu joining the party. Navjot Kaur said that even though Congress had also approached him, Sidhu was firm on joining AAP.
Sidhu then went on to meet Kejriwal.
In the meantime, the AAP appears to have run into some trouble in Punjab – where it had claimed that an opinion poll had given it 100 out of the 117 Assembly seats in April of this year. On Thursday, Kejriwal named journalist-turned-politician Jarnail Singh as co-incharge of Punjab affairs and as the party spokesperson.
Just a day prior to this development, Singh and national organisation building head Durgesh Pathak were accused of seeking money for tickets in the state.
After Independence Day it was being speculated that Sidhu would be inducted into the party on August 18, but even that did not happen.
Now the tweets from Kejriwal have put to rest the speculations that Sidhu might be joining the party sometime soon. Either this is Kejriwal’s style of driving a hard bargain with Sidhu, or it is just a polite way of saying au revoir.