On Sunday, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu took the long-awaited decision. After months of parleys over which way Sidhu will turn, he finally joined hands with the Congress. The former long time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member had seen an acrimonious exit from the party after he gave up his Rajya Sabha membership in July 2016.
Leaving his past behind, Sidhu on Monday addressed a press conference donning a Congress flag. Despite being a BJP leader for over 12 years, Sidhu claimed that he is a born Congressman. He even went on to say that he owed his existence to the Congress. But what about those years with the BJP? You said you believed in BJP’s ideology when you campaigned for the party for over 10 years. Was that all a lie?
Beginning of a new inning. On the front foot…….. Punjab, Punjabiyat & every Punjabi must win !!! pic.twitter.com/up0WzzoaxJ
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) January 15, 2017
Sidhu’s political graph:
Sidhu began his political journey in 2004 when he got elected to the Lok Sabha from Amritsar on a BJP ticket. But just two years later, he was convicted of homicide in a road rage incident of 1988. After his sentence was suspended by the Supreme Court, he fought the Lok Sabha bye-election again February 2007 from Amritsar and won.
He maintained his stronghold in Amritsar having won the seat yet again in 2009 general elections. But in 2014, Sidhu was made to vacate his seat for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. when Jaitley lost Amritsar, Sidhu’s stand was vindicated. Many said Sidhu’s ties with the BJP were under strain. Understanding the role that Sidhu might play in the Punjab elections, BJP offered him a Rajya Sabha nomination in 2016. The tensions refused to die down and soon, Sidhu gave up the membership of the Upper House.
Resigned as a primary member of BJP. pic.twitter.com/z9rRtaHXaq
— Navjot Singh Sidhu (@sherryontopp) September 14, 2016
Sidhu’s political opportunism:
Sidhu wanted a prominent place in politics. He refused to be relegated to a corner. Seeing that the Aam Aadmi Party may gain a foothold in the Punjab elections, he got into talks with the party. Reports suggested that he had preconditions of joining the party. He wanted to be the chief ministerial face of the party. The AAP refused. The talks failed.
He then formed his own party named Awaz-e-Punjab (AeP) along with hockey player-turned-politician and Bains brothers. The negotiations went on. The AAP is going strong and the Congress is finding it difficult to regain base in Punjab. Hence, the grand old party needs a face to bank upon for the upcoming elections. The backdoor talks ended on Sunday with Sidhu joining the Congress. Reports suggest that he has been promised the position of deputy CM if the Congress comes to power.
With a state where the Badals and the Majithias are likely to be blown away by anti-incumbency, Sidhu for sure believes that he stands as a strong CM face. But whether this party hopping will turn out to be in his favour or against, only time will tell.