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Amid reports of the Congress negotiating with cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Awaaz-e-Punjab (AEP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Wednesday assigned two of its trusted leaders to woo Sidhu’s outfit for a political relationship ahead of 2017 Assembly elections. A two-member team of AAP, comprising national organisation building head Durgesh Pathak and Gurpreet Singh Bhatti, a former aide of Manpreet Badal who joined AAP later, met Sidhu at his Delhi residence today.
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Pathak told The Indian Express that talk were on and they had got a “positive response” from the outfit.
AEP members said they had not been able to reach any conclusion after a marathon meeting lasting eight hours on Wednesday. The leaders of the outfit met at Sidhu’s Delhi residence.
Sources said Sidhu also held a meeting Tuesday with a senior Congress leader, considered a trouble-shooter by the Gandhi family. Another Congress representative met him Wednesday morning.
The AAP delegation met Sidhu at his residence in the evening.
Simarjit Singh Bains, a legislator from Ludhiana who is part of AEP, told The Indian Express they would require some more time to take a decision. “We do not want to take a decision that the people of Punjab will not appreciate,” he said.
While Rajya Sabha member and former Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa has said that AEP’s pact with the Congress is likely to be sealed before Diwali, sources in AEP said they had made it clear they would not like to work with Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh for his alleged “nexus” with Badals.
Also, in the past, Amarinder has attacked Sidhu a couple of times calling him a “clown”, a “comedian” and other names.
On the other hand, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has always said he would respect Sidhu even if his relationship with AAP does not materialise.
AAP’s Punjab dialogue head Kanwar Sandhu has been in talks with Sidhu and Jalandhar MLA Pargat Singh in the past. However, talks have not matured. Pathak and Bhatti have now been tasked to take it forward.
Bhatti, who is also AAP’s candidate from Amloh, had engineered Manpreet Badal’s People Party of Punjab’s alliance with Congress in 2014 elections. He and Simarjit Bains have been associated with Youth Akali Dal in the past.