TALKS BETWEEN cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Awaaz-e-Punjab and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) seem to have reached a dead end. Both sides were engaged in talks for the first time in July. According to AAP, Sidhu’s outfit had asked for 25-30 Assembly seats and the deputy chief minister’s post apart from four to five Cabinet berths. But AAP refused to accept that. It had offered four to five seats only, said a source.
Simarjit Singh Bains, a legislator from Ludhiana and a member of Awaaz-e-Punjab, denied having asked for anything. “We are talking only to give the people of Punjab a befitting political option.” A senior AAP leader, however, said that Sidhu and his aides were in constant touch with Congress strategist Prashant Kishor. In fact, Kishor had met Sidhu over dinner last Thursday. “They are being sold a dream of a Congress minus state president Captain Amarinder Singh. They, however, do not realise that this is not going to happen.”
AAP was negotiating with Sidhu for the last 10 days after the party had assigned a two-member team, comprising its national organisation building head Durgesh Pathak and Amloh candidate Gurpreet Singh Bhatti to finalise the deal. When Pathak and Bhatti met Sidhu’s outfit at his residence, both sides stuck to their demands, it is learnt.
The AAP leader said they cannot be more flexible. “We discussed it among ourselves. We cannot deny party workers their right by getting 25-30 candidates from outside. This will only be counter-productive. On the other hand, if Sidhu and party join Congress, the euphoria will last only 10-15 days. We can do without them.”
Bains, who had earlier said that they would announce the final decision on November 4, said, “There is no development on our front yet.”
Congress is also maintaining silence. Former state party president Partap Singh Bajwa, who had been showering Sidhu with praise the other day, suggesting that he be brought on board, has been maintaining a low profile.