Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has officially launched his own political outfit ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’. Flanked with his new party colleagues, Pargat Singh and Bains brothers of Ludhiana, and sizeable supporters, Sidhu took on incumbent Akali-BJP government saying his aim is to free Punjab from the rule of one family.
Attacking BJP and the Akalis, Sidhu said he was made a “decorative piece” by the ruling dispensation and was not accorded any importance even at public functions, fearing he may hog limelight.
“Men of genius are admired, men of power are feared, but men of character are trusted. And we fall in the third category,” he said in his familiar verbosity-laden style.
“Once considered the granary of the country has now turned into a begging bowl which is deep in debt,” he said continuing his attack on ruling Akali-BJP state government.
But the biggest talking point was Sidhu attacking Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, to the extent of calling his politics “anarchy in the garb of democracy”.
“Arvind Kejriwal leader was speaking half-truth as he told him not to contest polls and only campaign but will make his wife a Minister,” Sidhu told a packed and keenly awaited press conference at Chandigarh Press Club.
Post his exit from the BJP fold after quitting his party-nominated Rajya Sabha seat earlier last month, there were strong speculations of him joining Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The move, however, didn’t materialise.
During the course to chart out his political future after exiting BJP, Sidhu had held extended parleys with AAP leaders, including Delhi CM and its chief Arvind Kejriwal. The latter was quickest to react after Sidhu had resigned from Rajya Sabha, even lending hints of the former cricketer’s grand entry to the party.
But by mid-August, questions have begun to float over Sidhu joining AAP.
And then came the announcement by Arvind Kejriwal on August 19, who dropped more than a hint.
“Wud Navjot Sidhu ji join AAP- lot of rumours? Its my duty to put forward our side. We have greatest greatest regard for this ckt legend. (sic)” tweeted Kejriwal, adding the cricketer met him last week and “didn’t put any pre-condition. He needs time to think. Lets respect that”.
There were also reports that Sidhu wanted to be the chief ministerial face of AAP, the speculation which has now been rebuffed by Sidhu in his presser.
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.
The decision to launch an altogether new party was arrived at last week 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.
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 bickering in its Punjab unit in the aftermath of removal of its state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, AAP chief faced series of protest in Punjab on Thursday over allegations on his party ranging from corruption, favouritism and exploitation of women.