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Monday, January 18, 2021

Explained: What makes Navjot Singh Sidhu so important in Punjab politics?

Considering his popularity in Punjab, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who enjoys a clean image, is in demand. This has made the Congress sit up and sharpen efforts to placate him.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Updated: June 18, 2020 11:34:04 am
Navjot Singh Sidhu, Navjot Singh Sidhu punjab politics, Navjot Singh Sidhu news, Punjab politics Navjot Singh Sidhu at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on April 20, 2019. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)

Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has mostly remained aloof from the political scene in Punjab for nearly an year now, is back in news amid reports that he is being wooed by the Aam Aadmi Party as well as former SAD leader Parminder Singh Dhindsa. The Indian Express explains the reasons behind his disappearing act and why he is in headlines again.

Why has Sidhu been staying away from the political scene in Punjab?

During 2019 Lok Sabha elections, when Sidhu alleged a quid pro quo between chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and former CM Parkash Singh Badal’s family, during a political rally. Soon after, Amarinder divested Sidhu of his key portfolio citing non-performance.

The CM handed him the department of power. But Sidhu refused to join the new department and waited for the party high command to intervene and get his “honour restored.” The party high command, after facing a rout in the Lok Sabha polls, could not prevail upon a stronger Amarinder, after the Congress in Punjab won eight out of 13 seats.

When did Sidhu resign from state Cabinet?

He resigned from the Cabinet in July 2019 and shifted to his Assembly segment Amritsar (East). He disappeared for four months only to resurface in November when the Kartarpur Corridor was thrown open and he was in the first delegation to cross over to Pakistan on an invite by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. He spoke from Pakistan government’s stage also then.

What after coming back to India ?

He went back into his hibernation. He was not even seen in his constituency. He would resurface sparingly, once in a while seen meeting some people of his constituency. But largely he remained incommunicado. He remained totally cut off from the media and most of his party leaders.

What about his online presence ?

He floated a channel on You Tube named Jittega Punjab. He has been seen on the channel distributing ration, masks and PPE kits during the lockdown. While he is out of touch with Congress leaders, he has been seen with party councillors of Amritsar while distributing ration.

Earlier, he was seen defying government orders on wearing a mask but later he stared doing that. He has not been active on Twitter and his handle has remained unused. The last post was on July 21, informing people about his vacating the official bungalow.

How is Sidhu back in news?

There are reports that he is in touch with AAP through political strategist Prashant Kishor. Though AAP convenor and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal has denied tapping the Congress leader but has said that “Sidhu is welcome in the party.”

Also read | Looking for a solo ride, BJP tests Punjab waters

Former SAD leader Parminder Dhindsa has also said that he was trying to get in touch with Sidhu to float a regional party to take on Congress and Akalis in 2022 state elections. Considering his popularity in the state, Sidhu, who enjoys a clean image, is in demand. This has made the Congress sit up and sharpen efforts to placate him.

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