CHANDIGARH: Time seems to be running out for cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu as he waits for that loose ball to hit the much-needed boundary on his new political pitch.
The 53-year-old who had floated Awaaz-e-Punjab a few months ago after quitting the BJP, has been assessing alignment options. He has been in talks with the Congress, AAP and Apna Punjab Party (APP) for the past few months. The momentum, which was in Sidhu’s favour when he quit his nominated Rajya Sabha seat, has died down. He is no longer seen as a game changer.
Sidhu and independent MLAs from Ludhiana, brothers Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjeet Singh Bains, and former SAD MLA and former Indian hockey team captain Pargat Singh had floated Awaaz-e-Punjab after quitting the BJP in September.
Amid the confusion, the Bains brothers announced their Lok Insaaf Party while they are part of Awaaz-e-Punjab. “In a week or so, we (Awaaz-e-Punjab) will take the final decision, whether we join the Congress or AAP or the third front. We are having deliberations with think tanks. We do not want to support any party which ends up like the Badals,’’ Simarjeet said.
About Lok Insaaf Party, Simarjeet said they “had applied to the EC for registration before Awaaz-e-Punjab was floated”. He added that all anti-SAD/BJP parties have made offers to them and to Sidhu, but his indecision made him lose his credibility.
“Everyone who has a secular approach and accepts the policies of the party is welcome in the Congress, whether it’s Sidhu, Pargat Singh or the Bains brothers. Doors of our party are always open to them, as we have to fight the Badals,’’ said Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress president.
The Congress offered Sidhu the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, a Cabinet berth for his wife Navjot Kaur and five MLA seats, if the party won. Sidhu’s father Bhagwant Singh Sidhu is a former office-bearer of the Patiala District Congress.
“Top party leaders have been in consultation with Sidhu. No common ground has been reached by both sides. We will always welcome him,” said Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi, Punjab Convener of AAP.
According to sources, the AAP is offering Sidhu the Deputy CM’s post and five seats, but he has demanded 30 seats, leading to a stalemate. Where Sidhu goes is still a million-dollar question.