New Delhi: Cricketer-turned-BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was recently nominated from the Rajya Sabha, resigned on Monday.
According to reports, Sidhu is set to join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and become the party’s candidate for Chief Minister for the Punjab elections due next year. The Arvind Kejriwal-led party is preparing him to lead the campaign in the state elections.
The Delhi Chief Minister took to twitter and said he ‘salutes’ Sidhu for his ‘courage’. “People can give their right hand for an RS seat. Ever seen a sitting RS MP resigning to save his state? I salute Sidhu ji for his courage,” tweeted Kejriwal.
Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur, a Parliamentary Secretary in the Punjab SAD-BJP government, may also resign from her post. She had announced her resignation on Facebook earlier this year but later changed her mind.
The resignation of 52-year-old Sidhu, who was nominated on April 22, has been accepted by Chairman Hamid Ansari with immediate effect.
“Nominated member Navjot Singh Sidhu on Monday tendered his resignation from Rajya Sabha and the Chairman has accepted his resignation with immediate effect,” Gurdeep Sappal, OSD to the RS Chairman told PTI.
Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien also announced in the House that the Chairman has accepted the resignation of Sidhu.
Navjot Sidhu has been upset with the BJP ever since the saffron party denied him the ticket from Amritsar for Lok Sabha polls in 2014. Instead, the party chose Arun Jaitley, who lost to Congress leader Amarinder Singh. Sidhu had represented the Amritsar constituency for 10 years previously.
“I accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination at the behest of PM Modi, for the good of Punjab. (But) with the closure of every window leading to Punjab, that purpose stands defeated. It is now a mere burden. I do not wish to carry it,” said Sidhu, indirectly pointing out that he was unhappy with the party’s direction and prospects in the state.
“In the battle between right and wrong, you cannot be neutral. Punjab’s interest is paramount,” Sidhu added philosophically.
With speculation rife over the issue, the AAP said in Chandigarh that it would welcome Sidhu with open arms if he joins the party.
“If he joins our party, we will welcome him with open arms,” the AAP’s Sangrur MP, Bhagwant Mann who is also party’s campaign committee chairman, said.
When asked if Sidhu has approached AAP or vice versa,
Mann said that is not the case so far. “He has not got in touch with us nor have we got into touch with him,” he said.
Asked if Sidhu could be made AAP’s Chief Ministerial candidate in case he decides to take the plunge, Mann said, “Whoever joins AAP, he is clearly told that it has to be unconditional.
“Even when I had joined AAP, I had said that I will be happy if I am assigned just the duty of pasting posters of the party. I want to make it clear that there is no race for any post in our party…the CM candidate will be decided by the party,” he said.
“But as party’s campaign committee chairman, I want to say that our doors are open. Sidhu is a good orator with a clean image, who has also remained a star campaigner of his party. May be now, he finds that he does not enjoy that much
freedom to express himself (in BJP),” Mann said.
Mann said AAP has promised to give a viable political alternative to the people of Punjab in the 2017 Assembly elections.
He said if people like Sidhu join the AAP it will be good for the party. He also said, “From time to time, Sidhu’s (MLA) wife (Navjot Kaur) has been raising questions on policies and programmes of the SAD-BJP Government including on the drug
AAP’s senior leader and party’s Punjab affairs in-charge, Sanjay Singh tweeted, “Navjot Singh Sidhu has taken a brave step by resigning from membership of Rajya Sabha and I welcome his decision.”
Sidhu’s wife is a BJP MLA from Amritsar-East constituency in Punjab and is known to take on her own government in the State on various issues.
Navjot Sidhu had in the past attacked Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal saying, “Badal Sahib, you promised moon to the people of Amritsar… Don’t deny them basic needs. Don’t abuse the word daughter and sister. I am ready to vacate my seat for your relatives.”
Sidhu, a former Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar, was convicted in a culpable homicide case in Patiala and is out on bail.