It doesn’t matter what he calls it, Navjot Singh Sidhu’s political entity will always be known as Sidhu’s party. The current name (Awaaz-e-Punjab) sounds more like something Imran Khan would come up with, but then they are both cricketers so guess they have a common affection for classical names.
When I first read it, I thought okay he’s making a Mughal-e-Azam kind of film or it’s the name of a popular dhaba on the road to Amritsar.
Will the political party's name resonate in Punjab? Too early to say. And what about Sidhu himself...does he have the calibre for the big boys league or is he a spoiler in the making?
There is no doubt that the comedian in him will be hugely entertaining and his bon mots will make for happy headlines but is that tantamount to the ‘sterner stuff’ that political ambition demands.
After a while the 'haw haw haw' can become tedious.
He kicked off his intrigue by disappearing from the Rajya Sabha, disappearing from the BJP, disappearing from public view and left everyone confused about his joining the Arvind Kejriwal brigade.
Guess that was a smart way to ensure media attention when he announced his party and intent to take on the established political entities. Adding an Olympian hockey player to the mix was an indicator that he was readying himself for the battle ahead.
One cannot see Sidhu swanning past the others on his own and coming out with a majority but yes, he will splinter the electorate and even if he doesn’t go laughing all the way to the vote banks, it is a good chance that Sidhu will hold the ace of hearts in the very likely event of a coalition government.
You don’t need to make a movie to know that the people in Punjab are tired of the drug rackets, the corruption, crime and sense of insecurity that prevails in this once highly disciplined society where goon squads and bully boys have now become the norm.
The spectre of unemployment grins hideously and caste wars continue. And all they have as options are shards of glass. The AAP sheen seems to have diminished in recent days and Kejriwal isn’t a happy camper.
The current Parkash Singh Badal-led coalition seems to have lost more than just a wheel and is unlikely to hang onto the smoky tendrils of power. The incumbent factor is tangibly hostile. The BJP is equally unloved and while Amarinder Singh in his avatar as the Maharajah of Patiala may still command and get the respect of his royal lineage, it isn’t going to translate into votes for the Congress.
As for the Kejriwal cavalcade, it is softening its jab in Punjab and he is not likely to wipe out measles, dysentery or beriberi as he attempts to heal the viral detritus of his own party. Between CDs of passion, laughable responses by AAP spokesperson Ashutosh, the rebuke from the CAG, his war with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and the loss of face in jumping the gun over Sidhu’s admission to the party are all adding up to two spanking new court jesters in the fray, both wanting to be chief ministers.
And Sidhu will probably end up being the least stressed because he has very little to lose. He can stonewall into January, break all the courtesies of democratic procedures, be outrageous, shift from being a Donald Trump to a Barack Obama to a Kejriwal himself and get the laughs and the crowds and the media attention.
Watch next week when he officially launches the party. He will temporarily eclipse the others.
But when the show is over and the garlands dead and everyone departed there is no guarantee it will translate into votes.
For now Sidhu must be causing Badal, BJP leader Kamal Sharma, Amarinder Singh and Kejriwal a fair loss of sleep.
One can only hope that the raucous preemptively false bonhomie from the TV does not turn the 'Awaaz' into a tower of babble.
First Published On : Sep 5, 2016 15:35 IST