Cricket-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is finally on the move. Putting all conjectures to the rest, the former BJP leader will soon be floating his own political outfit ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’. He had quit his BJP-nominated Rajya Sabha seat earlier last month stoking speculations of joining Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), giving it a major boost ahead state assembly polls next year.
Post his exit from the BJP fold, Sidhu held extended parleys with AAP leaders, including Delhi CM and its chief Arvind Kejriwal, to chart out his grand entry to the party. The talks, however, didn’t materialise.
“We have decided to form a new front to fight all forces which have ruined Punjab. A formal announcement of the new front would be made in the next three-four days at a place to be decided soon,” Pargat Singh, who will Sidhu’s aide in the newly-formed party, told the press.
According to the informed sources, Sidhu decided to float the outfit along with some like-minded people after his talks with AAP failed.
And the decision to launch an altogether new party was arrived at after his meeting with suspended Akali legislator from Jalandhar, Pargat Singh, and Bains brothers of Ludhiana – Simarjeet Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains, both of whom won as independent legislators.
“We have jointly formed a new platform Awaaz-e-Punjab… Our main intention for coming together was to save Punjab from drug scourge, mafia system working in the state,” Independent MLA from Ludhiana South Balwinder Bains told the press.
The development has certainly come as a rude shock to the AAP, which was hoping to make windfall gains in the polls ahead of ruling Akali-BJP combine and the main opposition Congress.
Already facing internal bickerings in its Punjab unit in the aftermath of removal of its state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, AAP is, however, claiming Sidhu’s drifting away will not be any set-back for the party.
“The Aam Aadmi Party is based on an ideology and not on an individual. People are with us,” lawyer and AAP state leader Himmat Singh Shergill said.
Navjot Sidhu had in mid-August met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi to discuss his plans of joining the AAP. Dropping more than hints, Kejriwal on August 19 said the cricketer- turned-politician just needs “time to think” and that Sidhu “has not put any pre-condition”, a reference to speculation that Sidhu wanted to be the chief ministerial face of AAP.
It is yet not clear if his wife Navjot Kaur, a sitting BJP MLA in Punjab, too will be following Sidhu in his new outfit.
(With inputs from the PTI)