Cricketer-turned-politician, Navjot Singh Sidhu created a new inning when he finally stepped out of his long period of indecision shell to pick the Congress as his new team. He is all ready to contest the February 4th Punjab assembly election from Amritsar East.
Interestingly it’s the same part of Amritsar Lok Sabha Constituency which he represented for the BJP from 2004 to 2014, which he quit in September complaining of being sidelined. He considers joining Congress as a sort of homecoming for him. Sidhu instigated unsparing attacks on the ruling Badal family of Punjab. But many are questioning is Mr. Sidhu’s new innings are signs of opportunism? Well I call it a political opportunism. Remember, he was once a strong Congress adversary and now he claims that he is a “born congressman”. He even went on to say that he owed his existence to the Congress. But what about those 12 years with the BJP where he campaigned for the party?
Sidhu started his political career when he got elected to the Lok Sabha from Amritsar on a BJP ticket. He undoubtedly maintained his strong hold in Amritsar when he won the February 2007 Lok Sabha bye-election and 2009 general elections. When Sidhu was made to vacate his seat for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in 2014, strain began to appear in Sidhu’s ties with the BJP. Then on understanding the role of Sidhu in elections, BJP offered him a Rajya Sabha nomination in 2016 but the tensions refused to die down and Sidhu resigned as a primary member of BJP.
Well, Sidhu wanted a notable position in politics and refused to move down. On seeing that the AAP may gain a foothold in the Punjab elections, he got into talks with the party. But the talks failed when AAP refused to name him as the chief ministerial face of Punjab. He then suddenly formed his own political team named, Awaz-e-Punjab, along with former hockey captain Pargat Singh and Bains brothers in September; which was a major shock for AAP, of course. Meanwhile Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu also resigned from BJP on November 28 and she along with Pargat Singh joined the Congress while the Bains brothers announced their alliance with the AAP.
The negotiations of Sidhu went on but this time with both AAP and Congress. With AAP going strong and Congress finding it difficult to regain base in Punjab, the congressmen definitely need a face or rather a star vote catcher to bank upon and come back to power after a decade in the upcoming elections. The irony is during Sidhu’s ties with BJP, he was seen openly ridiculing and blasting the Congress party and Rahul Gandhi on public platforms and speeches during campaigns. He may have called himself as the true Congressman to woo the party veterans but his old statements against the Grand Old Party and its Vice President may leave him embarrassed. He is certainly entitled as a political opportunist.
One thing is certain, the former BJP MP, who lost considerable time in choosing between the AAP and the Congress, will find the pitch tough. Politician, who earned the image of an entertainer with many avatars that includes a stint in comedy shows of television, will have to fall back on all his ‘sidhuism’ to count the political charges of opportunism in first ditching the BJP and then dumping the AAP. He will be forced to go on the back foot when these bouncers are bound to be used by his former friends and new force.
Sidhu, who once considered himself a potential Chief Minister, has now reconciled himself of playing the side role under his new captain Amarinder Singh. So was it a wise move to quit the Rajya Sabha and opt for an uncertain state role? I just want to lay back and see whether the party hopping of Navjot Singh Sidhu turn out to be in his favor or against.