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Navjot Singh Sidhu joins Congress just 20 days ahead of Punjab Assembly polls

Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh was not present when Rahul Gandhi welcomed him to the party by presenting him with a Congress sash.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Updated: January 16, 2017 12:48 pm
Navjot Singh Sidhu, congress, sidhu join congress, congress Navjot Singh Sidhu, rahul gandhi, amarinder singh, punjab polls, punjab elections, indian express news, india news At Rahul Gandhi’s residence in Delhi on Sunday PTI photo

FINALLY, WITH just 20 days left for the Punjab Assembly election, Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the Congress at AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s residence in Delhi without any fanfare.

Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh was not present when Rahul Gandhi welcomed him to the party by presenting him with a Congress sash. Amarinder was campaigning in Punjab, addressing rallies at his native village Mehraj in Patiala and later in Bathinda.

WATCH | Navjot Singh Sidhu Officially Joins Congress, Says This Is My Ghar Wapsi

Sidhu, who had been building the suspense for nearly four months after resigning from his BJP Rajya Sabha seat, and Amarinder spoke on the phone and the Punjab president is said to have welcomed his joining as “great news”.

A Congress leader said the reason why there was no grand announcement of Sidhu’s entry to the party was that it was “getting very late, with only three days left for the nomination process to close”.

Read: Navjot Singh Sidhu joins Congress after meeting Rahul Gandhi

The party has decided to launch Sidhu from the Golden Temple in Amritsar on January 19. Congress sources said Amarinder will be present at that function and later both would address a joint press conference and also go for a roadshow together.

It is now expected that the Congress will announce Sidhu as one of its candidates — the party is yet to declare candidates for nine seats — in the February 4 Assembly election.

The party is said to consider fielding him from Jalalabad against Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, while Amritsar East constituency, where his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu won on a BJP ticket last time, is seen as a safe seat for him. “The decision will either be finalised by late Sunday evening or Monday morning,” said a senior AICC leader.

Amarinder and Sidhu had exchanged barbs in the recent past. Amarinder called his Awaaz-e-Punjab outfit a “tonga party” and the Sidhu couple “undisciplined”.

On his part, Sidhu once described Congress as “munni se zyada badnaam hui”, riffing on a Bollywood song. He had also alleged a nexus between Amarinder and the ruling Badal family. Sidhu had even issued a statement saying he could join Congress but not with Amarinder at the helm of affairs.

Sidhu’s entry into Congress was part of a strategy designed by Prashant Kishor, who got in touch with him as soon as he floated his Awaaz-e-Punjab front. Amarinder was kept out of the negotiations even when Priyanka Gandhi got in touch with Sidhu and invited him to join the Congress. The Awaaz-e-Punjab was a shortlived experiment. Two of its main constituents, the Bains brothers, who are MLAs from Ludhiana, have already aligned with Aam Aadmi Party.

Sidhu entered politics in 2004 as the BJP candidate in that year’s Lok Sabha election from Amritsar. He won and kpet his seat in 2009, too. But BJP denied him a ticket in 2014. Though the party nominated him to the Rajya Sabha in April 2016, Sidhu resigned a few months later. His wife joined Congress in November 2016.

In an acerbic statement, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal described Sidhu as an “overrated comedian” and said he had “taken more turns than any cricket pitch in the world”. He also predicted that Sidhu’s shelf life in the Congress was also likely to be very short.

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    Abraman
    Jan 16, 2017 at 5:32 am
    Sidhu is Lucky he got rid of murderous RSS and BJP destroying this country.
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      Repono warehousing
      Jan 16, 2017 at 4:18 am
      All along Sidhu was praising Namo. Even the 5th day test wicket doesnt turn the way Sidhu has turned. Long ago I learnt, some is better than nothing but nothing is better than non sense. Sidhu should have simply avoided congress.
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      1. S
        SubbuI
        Jan 16, 2017 at 5:38 am
        SIDDU IS IN THE FUTURE STAR OF CONGRESS AND DEFINITELY IS VALUE ADDITION TO CONGRESS. LET THE LOSERS REDICULE BOTH RAHUL HI AND NAVJYOTH SIDDU. RAHUL HI HAS SHOWED HIS CRTICS THAT HE CAN NOT JUST BE IGNORED " WOH KACCHE KILADI NAHI HAI BAI" THOUGH HE IS DOWN BUT DEFINITELY NOT OUT.ZLET HIM TAKE TIME AND LEARN WHAT KIND OF PEOPLE HE IS UP TO.GOODY GOODY POLITICS ARE NOT THE GAME TODAY lt;br/gt;DICTATORS DAYS ARE COUNTED. CLOCK STARTED TICKING. HOPE BHAKTHS AND SLAVES BE NOT OVER CONFIDENT. EVEN A TORTOISE DEFEATED HARE IN THE RACE. Dhere hoga. MAGAR ANDHER NAHI HOGA,
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          Ajay G
          Jan 16, 2017 at 4:04 am
          It's long shot. Ensures hold of Rahul over PPCC. Captain has never been a mute listener to Rahul. lt;br/gt; Congressman who switched to other parties may rejoin any moment. There are 50 MPs who joined BJP in 2014. lt;br/gt; lt;br/gt;Sidhu any day will be more acceptable than Sukhbir. Senior Badal and Captain are fighting their last battle.
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            Rajesh
            Jan 16, 2017 at 5:16 am
            Good news for Congress as one good person added to garbage kind party. Sidhu is a good person, this man can change the future of Punjab Congress and as w. He was always disciplined member of BJP this is straight loss to BJP and a very big gain to Congress.
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