Monday 26 October 2020

Sidhu on way back to BJP: Reasons & indicators

The Akalis have severed their ties with the NDA and Arun Jaitley, who did not approve of Sidhu's revolt against the Badals, is no more while the cricketer-turned-politician has no love lost for Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former minister Master Mohan Lal has claimed that Navjot Singh Sidhu will take the big decision to return ‘home’ soon. Lal said it was the BJP where Sidhu would find “salvation”. Sidhu has no future in the Indian National Congress (INC), he said. “He is an honest leader and BJP is the right platform for him,” Lal opined.

The BJP politician claimed that Sidhu would contest the 2022 election on a BJP nomination. Talking to the media, Lal said that Sidhu had always wanted the BJP to go it alone in Punjab elections. “He insisted on this. Now the time has come for Sidhu to join the BJP,” Lal said.

Navjot Singh Sidhu had joined Rahul Gandhi’s Moga Kheti Bachao rally after the efforts of Punjab Congress in-charge Harish Rawat. There he got an opportunity to address the gathering, but he seized the opportunity to speak as much against the Amarinder Singh government as he did against the recently amended laws on agriculture.

After the incident, Sidhu did not get a chance to speak from any platform of the INC. Sidhu did not later participate in Rahul’s tractor yatra.

It may be noted that the cricketer-turned-politician has been so out of place in the INC that he turned a butt of jokes when social media users posted videos of his speeches delivered while representing the BJP, which matched those he made in Sonia Gandhi’s party. The only difference in the speeches was the replacement of “Narendra Modi” with “Rahul Gandhi”!

Soon, the mainstream media picked the comparison and broadcast it on television.

Cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu had made a foray into politics in 2004. He contested and won on a BJP ticket, but soon after registering the victory, he was involved in the 1988 case of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The case opened again. In December 2006, he was sentenced to three years in prison.

Sidhu resigned from the Lok Sabha in January 2007 and moved the Supreme Court that stayed his sentence. In February 2007, Sidhu once again contested the Lok Sabha election on a BJP ticket and won. After this, in 2009, Sidhu scored a hat-trick of winning his seat.

What made Sidhu uncomfortable in BJP

In 2014, BJP did not nominate Sidhu for the Lok Sabha election that year. Arun Jaitley contested in his place but lost the election to Captain Amarinder Singh.

Meanwhile, as Sidhu had been against the Badal family — especially due to the allegations of the Akali leaders’ association with drug cartels — he became increasingly uncomfortable in the BJP where Jaitley wouldn’t allow him to speak against Bikramjit Singh Majithia, the brother-in-law of Sukhbir Singh Badal and brother of Harsimrat Kaur.

Though the BJP sent Sidhu to the Rajya Sabha in April 2016, its alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal did not let him rest easy. He finally resigned from the Rajya Sabha membership and quit the BJP in July 2016.

Political observers say though that the BJP sent Sidhu to the INC with a ‘plan’. The idea was to increase the chances of the INC to win at a time when the Parkash Singh Badal government’s ouster was a foregone conclusion to stop an ‘anarchist’ Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from coming to power in a sensitive border state.

Move to INC

Sidhu formed his party Awaaz-e-Hind. Not seeing a bright future of the new party, he later joined the INC.

Thereafter, Sidhu contested the next assembly election on an INC ticket and won by a big margin. He was made the local body minister in the Captain Amarinder Singh government, but he lost his leverage in the portfolio when its officers were shuffled.

A peeved Sidhu resigned as minister of the INC government last year. He went silent on social media platforms as well as public forums.

Of late, Sidhu has heightened political activism again.

Since his resignation from ministry in the Amarinder Singh government, Sidhu has been seen in the following public meetings.

  • 8 August 2019: Launch of LED street lights in Verka, Amritsar East constituency, and cleaning of a drain in Mohan Nagar
  • 29 August 2019: Inauguration of cleanliness drive to clear the dirty drains in the same constituency; Sidhu maintained a distance from the media
  • 9 November 2019: Inauguration of Sri Kartarpur Sahib Corridor; Pakistan visit to pay obeisance at Sri Nankana Sahib
  • 12 November 2019: Shukrana Ardas of Kartarpur Corridor in Gurkwara Nanakasar Sahib Verka at Guruparva
  • 31 March this year: Amid a raging coronavirus and nationwide lockdown, Sidhu buys groceries for the needy
  • 6 and 9 April: Even as the lockdown continues, Sidhu comes forward to distribute PPE kits and sanitisers among doctors
  • 22 September: Sidhu demonstrates against the agrarian reform laws at Bhandari Bridge with councillors and workers from his constituency
  • 28 September: Sidhu participates in a farmers’ demonstration at village Manwala Dhuri Sangrur
  • 4 October: Sidhu attends Rahul Gandhi’s tractor rally

Why return now

Now that Jaitley is no more and the Akalis have severed ties with the NDA in the name of standing alongside the farmers — while the flamboyant politician has no love lost for Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh — it is time for him to return, say sources in the Punjab unit of the BJP.

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