Navjot Singh Sidhu quits Rajya Sabha, jolt for BJP as AAP beckons

One of Navjot Singh Sidhu's famous one liners is, "Pitches are like wives. You never know which way they will turn." Well, what Sidhu the commentator said can now easily be said about Sidhu the politician: Nobody knows which way he will turn.

Just a few months after being nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the BJP, Sidhu delivered a googly and resigned from Parliament on Monday. Nobody knows which way his politics may turn now, but there is growing speculation that he would now be the AAP candidate for Punjab's chief minister.

Only the other day, under fire for being a party of outsiders that can't relate to the sensitivities and sensibilities of the Sikhs, Arvind Kejriwal had indicated that his party would put somebody from the community on the forefront of the campaign.

Navjot Singh Sidhu. File photo. PTI

Navjot Singh Sidhu. File photo. PTI

Sidhu could be his man of the match.

Though Sidhu had mysteriously agreed to the BJP's Rajya Sabha offer, it was widely speculated that he was in talks with AAP as its presumptive CM candidate. But the deal could not be worked out because of internal differences in the AAP, where several ambitious leaders and factions were vying for the top job.

But, the AAP's hand seems to have been forced by recent events aimed to portray the party as inimical to the Sikhs and insensitive to the Panth.

Early on Monday morning, Kejriwal had made a surprise appearance at the Golden Temple in Amritsar to wash utensils and perform seva. While his critics labeled it nautanki, Kejriwal was performing penance for hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs over the past few weeks. By washing utensils, at the Akal Takht, he was seeking forgiveness with the hope that the mistake doesn't cost AAP the election in Punjab.

A few weeks ago, while releasing its election manifesto, the AAP incensed a section of Sikhs by placing the party's symbol, broom, next to a picture of the religious shrine. Around the same time, party leader Ashish Khetan compared the AAP "youth manifesto" with the holy book of Sikhs. This lead to a series of protests and complaints against the party. Obviously, Kejriwal can't let all these gains slip away by letting his voters simmer over a mistake his party made.

But, Kejriwal needs to address another problem that is facing his party: Lack of a credible Sikh face to impress rural voters and snare them away from the Akalis who dominate the panthic discourse in the state.
Kejriwal is wary also of Captain Singh's presence. The Congress leader is currently on a massive outreach programme in the state in a last-gasp effort to pitch himself as the face of the anti-incumbency vote against the SAD-BJP combine in the state. The AAP desperately needs a credible, local heavyweight to counter the Patiala royal.

For the past few months, Sidhu had been sulking because of the BJP's reluctance to consider his demand for snapping the alliance with Akalis. Interestingly, though he had become a BJP parliamentarian, Sidhu had refused to campaign for the party in Punjab till it divorces the Badals. He also indicated that his wife, Navjot Kaur Sidhu, a BJP MLA in Punjab, would not contest the next Assembly elections. That led to a lot of embarrassment within the BJP.

Unless he has a doosra up his sleeve, Sidhu is now likely to turn up in the AAP team. And sweep his former friends out of Punjab with a broom.

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Updated Date: Jul 18, 2016 16:32:51 IST

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