New Delhi: Cricketer-turned-politician-cum-comedy-show-host Navjot Singh Sidhu has met with Indian National Congress (INC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi in the national capital. According to sources in the Congress, he has sought INC nominations for his wife Navjot Kaur as well as himself from the INC leader.
Sources in the INC leadership said that the former cricketer wishes to contest the upcoming Assembly election from Amritsar East, a constituency his wife holds as an MLA. She had fought from the seat as a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate. The couple resigned from the BJP a few months ago.
In the meantime, the INC had already released its first list of contestants for the Punjab election, accommodating several politicians recommended by Captain Amarinder Singh. Before it could release the second, Sidhu has emerged as a claimant in the power equation, should he eventually join the INC. Amarinder Singh had, before the release of the first list, expressed his reservations about allowing Sidhu into the party.
Interestingly, both Navjot Kaur and Amarinder Singh’s wife Praneet Kaur have stepped aside from their respective constituencies so that their husbands could contest for those seats. Navjot Kaur joined the INC last month. While the inclusion of politicians of Amarinder Singh’s choice indicates that the captain is calling the shots, the INC has not reacted to the Sidhu-Gandhi meeting officially so far.
INC sources say that the captain, who got pacified by the first list of candidates, cannot revolt if Rahul Gandhi lets Sidhu into the party now. The new entrant will help the high command, the sources said, to maintain a power balance in Punjab in the eventuality of an INC victory in the election. If the popular television personality is given the nomination he seeks and if he wins, he may be considered for the post of deputy chief minister while Amarinder Singh is sure to be made the chief minister again.
However, the deal that the INC is most likely to offer to the Sidhu couple is an Assembly seat nomination for the man — either replacing his wife in Amritsar East or challenging the BJP’s Anil Joshi for the other seat in the city — and a Lok Sabha nomination for his wife in 2019.