Monday, August 8, 2022

Next move for Sidhus after BJP exit still in limbo

By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Oct 9 (IANS)
So the Sidhu couple — cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and his doctor-turned-politician wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu — have finally exited the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The party that brought them into politics one by one is not regretting it. At least, not at present.

With Navjot Kaur sending her on-line resignation from the party on Saturday, following in her husband’s footsteps who quit last month, the couple’s exit which looked imminent has finally came. It took Punjab BJP president and uUnion minister Vijay Sampla just a few minutes to accept Kaur’s resignation and end the association.

“The party made her an MLA and even CPS (Chief Parliamentary Secretary), made him (Navjot Singh Sidhu) a Rajya Sabha member. The party gave them maximum respect and accommodated them. Their ambitions and expectations may have been more,” Sampla said, taking a dig at the Sidhus.

Kaur is the BJP legislator from the Amritsar-East assembly seat. Her husband had earlier remained Lok Sabha member from Amritsar (2004, 2007 – a by-poll, and 2009).

The Sidhu couple had mostly remained at loggerheads with Punjab’s ruling family, the Badals, in the past over a decade.

Though the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, virtually run by the Badal family, and the BJP have been partners for a number of years, the Sidhus never missed an opportunity to gun for the Badals, the Akali Dal and the alliance government, which has been in power in Punjab since 2007.

Even though Kaur was a CPS in the Badal government, she openly took potshots at her own government, often accusing it of stalling development in her and Sidhu’s Amritsar constituency. The couple spoke their mind and left the alliance and its government embarrassed. A couple of times, a truce was secured between both sides but that could never sustain for long.

So what’s next for the Sidhu couple?

Sidhu quit as a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, given to him on a platter by the BJP government at the Centre, in July this year. For the next few days, he was hot political property which everyone in Punjab — be it the main opposition Congress or the new challenger Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)– wanted to lap up.

But the politically erratic Sidhu, while toying with the possibilities, ended up announcing his own political forum Awaaz-e-Punjab. He “exposed” the AAP and its convener Arvind Kejriwal and threw conditions at the Congress leadership.

At one time, it was speculated that the AAP could make Sidhu its chief ministerial candidate. However, Sidhu himself said the AAP leadership just offered a ticket for his wife and a ministerial berth if the party was voted to power.

Sidhu’s game to aspire for chief ministership virtually ended even before it started.

While the AAP, which is facing a turmoil in its Punjab unit now, kept quiet on the Sidhu episode, the Congress, which was keen on Sidhu at one stage, is having second thoughts.

In fact, Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh, who earlier used to say that Sidhu belongs to a Congress family, seems to have had enough of the chirpy Sidhu’s political banter.

“He (Sidhu) seems to be a very confused man. He keeps changing his statements. It is better that he stays away from us (Congress),” a visibly upset Amarinder Singh said.

With the entry to the Congress and AAP becoming doubtful and his move to launch a fourth front with a new party remaining a non-starter, Sidhu has created an uncertain situation for himself and others.

Amid the confusion in the opposition ranks, the Akali Dal-BJP combine seems to be relishing as the two parties are eyeing a third term as Punjab goes for assembly elections early next year.

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