WHILE THE BJP is said to be seriously considering nominating disgruntled leader Navjot Singh Sidhu to the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, to thwart AAP designs on him, Sidhu’s wife and Chief Parliamentary Secretary Navjot Kaur Sidhu on Tuesday said the three-time MP from Amritsar will not campaign in Punjab for 2017 assembly polls until the BJP breaks its alliance with SAD.”
“There is no word so far from the party on his (Sidhu’s) likely nomination as the Rajya Sabha member [from Punjab]. Irrespective of what is offered by the party, he will never campaign in Punjab till BJP breaks alliance with SAD,” Navjot Kaur told The Indian Express on Tuesday.
BJP secretary R P Singh, however, said Sidhu was a star campaigner and that his services were needed in Punjab. Singh said Sidhu could be sent to Rajya Sabha or could be made an office-bearer to get him to play an active role in the Punjab polls. “The party can even replace me with him,” R P Singh said.
If nominated, Sidhu would replace Avinash Rai Khanna in the Rajya Sabha. The BJP may then hand over the reins of its Punjab unit to Khanna. A senior BJP leader said, “As far as the post of the Punjab BJP president is concerned, either Avinash Rai Khanna could be made the state party chief or Kamal Sharma would continue”.
As the nominations for the Rajya Sabha members election on March 21 have to be filed by March 11, SAD is watching the developments closely. SAD is also learnt to be very comfortable in case Sidhu is nominated. SAD spokesperson and Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema, however, said that it the BJP’s internal matter to take a call on Sidhu. “We have never interfered in the affairs of the BJP,” Cheema said.
“Given the other engagements of Sidhu like cricket commentatory and his appearance in TV shows, the Rajya Sabha membership would be good for him. In fact, he had been keen to get nominated to the Rajya Sabha,” said another Akali leader.
The Sidhu couple, especially his wife, has been for long now mincing no words to spew venom against alliance partner SAD. She has been strongly pitching that the BJP should break the alliance with SAD.
The cricketer-turned-politician went into self declared political exile from Punjab after he was denied a ticket in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, allegedly at the behest of SAD.
An enraged Sidhu had not even campaigned for Arun Jaitley, who lost to Capt Amarinder Singh of the Congress. BJP’s plan to consider Sidhu’s name for nomination to Rajya Sabha is also being seen through the prism of Aam Aadmi Party making noteworthy inroads into Punjab politics.
It has been rumoured that disguntled Sidhu may join AAP. However, there was no clear indications of the same emerged either by AAP or by Sidhu.
SAD to back Dhindsa, Gujral for RS
Chandigarh: SAD president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday declared to renominate party general secretaries Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Naresh Gujral as its candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections from Punjab. In a statement released from the party head office here, the SAD secretary and spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema said that both the leaders will file their nomination papers at the Punjab Vidhan Sabha at 10:30 am on Wednesday.