Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is likely to join the Congress on January 9 or 10 after much dilly-dallying and unsuccessful talks with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
According to sources, Sidhu will be given the choice by the Congress leadership to contest either from Amritsar East assembly constituency, held by his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu till recently, or Amritsar Lok Sabha seat. Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh resigned from the seat in November last year on the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal issue.
The assembly elections in Punjab along with the by-poll for the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat will be held on February 4.
If the former BJP MP decides against contesting the elections, the Congress will field his wife from Amritsar East and utilise his services in campaigning for the party candidates across the state.
After quitting the BJP in September last year, Sidhu had been in talks with both the AAP and the Congress. However, his negotiations with the AAP broke down after the new party rejected his demand for naming a chief ministerial candidate ahead of the polls. His wife along with former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh later joined the Congress in November.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will release the Congress poll manifesto for Punjab at the Congress headquarters on January 9.
The Congress will also finalise its third and final list of 40 candidates on January 10 in a meeting of its central election committee, headed by Sonia Gandhi.
The announcement of the final list has been delayed due to the induction of rebel leaders from the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) that has caused widespread resentment in the Congress. The proposed move to field former Akali leaders such as Sarwan Singh Phillaur, Deepinder Singh Dhillon, Harinder Pal Singh Harry Mann and Inderbir Singh Bolaria is facing stiff resistance.
Congress leaders have argued that the move to give tickets to these Akali rebels will hurt the party badly in elections as some of them are facing the allegations of being close to drug traders.
“It will weaken the fight against drugs in Punjab and derail the agenda set by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to make Punjab a drug-free state,” a senior party leader said.