On Congress podium, Navjot Sidhu says Ghar Wapsi

Rajat Kain

Congress-rally-PunjabNavjot Singh Sidhu, who had finally put the speculation to rest after joining Congress party on Sunday, has given a clarion call to oust the incumbent Akali-BJP government from Punjab. Sidhu, a two-time Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar, had quit BJP last year August, sparking a series of speculations on his future move.

Addressing the press at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi, Sidhu called it his “ghar wapsi”.

“I am a born Congressman… Today I am feeling like I am back to my roots. It is my ghar wapsi,” he said in his signature verbosity-laden style, adding “Bhaag Badal Bhaag”.

“BJP chose an alliance, I chose Punjab…” he said targeting the ruling combine.

On Sunday, Sidhu joined Congress after meeting party vice president Rahul Gandhi. His wife Navjot Kaur had joined Congress in November last year leading to conjectures that he may follow suit.

The move came just ahead of Punjab assembly polls, which is slated to be held on February 4, and after months of guess-work around his future.

“Punjab was once known for the Green Revolution, now it is notorious for chitta (local term for drugs)… Navjot Singh Sidhu’s fight is for the redemption of Punjab, it is not an individual battle. I can’t see the youth dying slowly,” he said taking his attack at Akali government over the state’s grappling drug problem.

The issue of drug problem is one of the principal issues in the state elections.

Earlier, nearly a month after hanging boots in the BJP, which had nominated him to the Rajya Sabha last year, the attacking opener of yesteryears had floated his Punjab-centric outfit ‘Awaz-e-Punjab’, along with former Akali legislator from Jalandhar, Pargat Singh, and Bains brothers of Ludhiana – Simarjeet Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains.

Pargat Singh, also a former ace hockey player, too had joined Congress last month along with Navjot Kaur.

Prior to that, rumours were rife about Navjot Singh Sidhu’s entry in Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP with two leaders holding parleys to iron out the terms of entry. But the talks fell out.

However, Sidhu’s entry to the Congress fold is not without its share of questions given his equation with Capt. Amarinder Singh, Congress’ presumptive Chief Ministerial candidate. While, it is learnt, that Sidhu will be party’s one of star campaigners, there are no clear words on whether he will play a role in the next government, if Congress pulls off a victory.

“It is for the high command to decide what role he (Sidhu) will play… Anyone who is willing to join is welcome in the party fold. As for Sidhu, he will contest from the Amritsar East assembly seat,” Capt. Amarinder Singh told Rajya Sabha TV.

On his part, Sidhu too played down the questions on his talked-off ‘equation’ with the captain.

“If Lalu and Nitish can come together, why can’t Amarinder Singh and I…” the cricketer-turned-politician quipped in his maiden press at Congress headquarters in New Delhi.

The two are expected to hold a joint rally this week in Amritsar, that is already being billed more as show of unity than a show of strength.

(With inputs from Vishal Dahiya)