NEW DELHI/FATEHGARH SAHIB: Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday resigned from Rajya Sabha, just three months after his nomination by the Modi government amid talks that he may join the Aam Aadmi Party ahead of the assembly elections next year.
52-year-old Sidhu, who was nominated on April 22, made a brief statement indicating all was not well with him in the BJP.
While the AAP leaders hailed the cricketer-turned-politician, the ruling BJP and the Akali Dal maintained that his move will not impact their prospects in the poll-bound state.
The Punjab BJP said that Sidhu’s move will not affect the party adversely.
State BJP president Vijay Sampla said Sidhu did not take the party into confidence before resigning from Rajya Sabha.
“They did not (Navjot Singh Sidhu, his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu) inform me about their decision. As far as I know they have not informed about their move to the BJP high-command,” Sampla said.
“They are free to make their decision and they can go wherever they want to,” said Sampla, adding the party had showered them with ‘maan samman’ (respect).
Taking a dig at the former lawmaker, Sampla, who is also a Union minister, said their quitting will have no effect on BJP in poll-bound Punjab.
Reacting to Sidhu’s resignation, BJP ally and Punjab’s deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said “it would have no impact on the SAD-BJP alliance and on the assembly poll results in the state.”
Replying to a question on the possibility of the Sidhu couple joining the AAP, he said “whether they go to Aam Aadmi Party or Khaas Aadmi Party it would have no bearing on the outcome of the results of assembly polls next year.”
Terming Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal “good only for theatrics”, he said the AAP leader didn’t came to Sri Harmandir Sahib for performing sewa but to enact a “mere drama” which is clear to the people.
However, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party’s top leaders lapped up Sidhu’s decision and hailed it as a bold step against corruption in Punjab.
“People can give their rt hand for an RS seat. Ever seen a sitting RS MP resigning to save his state? I salute Sidhu ji for his courage,” Kejriwal, who is currently touring Punjab, tweeted.
Top AAP sources said Sidhu will join the party in a few days’ time. There was speculation that Sidhu may be in the race for AAP’s chief ministerial candidate in the state.
Top AAP leaders Sanjay Singh and Lok Sabha member Bhagwant Singh Mann welcomed Sidhu’s decision to resign from Rajya Sabha but parried questions whether he would join the party and become its chief ministerial face.
In a brief statement on his resignation, Sidhu did not reveal much about his future plans but there were indications that he was miffed with the state of affairs in his party.
“At the behest of the honourable PM, I had accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination for the welfare of Punjab.
“With the closure of every window leading to Punjab the purpose stands defeated. It is now a mere burden. I prefer not to carry it.
“In the war of right or wrong, you can’t afford to be neutral rather than being self-centered. Punjab’s interest is paramount,” said the former cricketer-turned politician, who had represented Amritsar in the Lok Sabha between 2004 and 2014.
Sources said Sidhu has been miffed with the party ever since he made way way for Arun Jaitley in Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
His wife, Navjot Kaur, who is chief parliamentary secretary in Punjab where BJP shares power with Akali Dal, had created a flutter on April 1 (April Fool’s day) announcing her resignation from the BJP.
“The burden is over,” she had written on her Facebook post on April 1, but after a meeting with top BJP leaders in Delhi, she said, “All is well” and she is very much a part of BJP in Punjab.
Both Sidhu and his wife share an uneasy relationship with the Akali leadership and have made open attacks on Akali Dal and its leadership on governance issues.
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