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Out of BJP crease, Sidhu dangles his bat before Cong, AAP

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is keeping the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress on tenterhooks over an alliance before next year’s Punjab polls, but his shifting stand may have eroded his bargaining chip.

india Updated: Sep 30, 2016 23:42 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is keeping the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress on tenterhooks over an alliance before next year’s Punjab polls.
Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is keeping the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress on tenterhooks over an alliance before next year’s Punjab polls.(Ravi Kumar/ HT File Photo)

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is keeping the Aam Aadmi Party and Congress on tenterhooks over an alliance before next year’s Punjab polls, but his shifting stand may have eroded his bargaining chip.

Politicians think Sidhu, the former BJP parliamentarian for Amritsar who resigned from the party in July, is using his Awaaz-e-Punjab as bait for a possible tie-up with any of the two rival parties.

But he is apparently losing credibility because of his ambivalence. For a man who calls himself a protector of Punjab’s interests, he remains incommunicado during shootings of his comedy shows in Mumbai and likes to engage the media in a one-way communication, issuing statements.

He meets Congress and AAP leaders alternately, and keeps everybody confused.

But both parties are keeping their doors ajar for him. Congress poll strategist Prashant Kishor is learnt to have told the party that Sidhu may dent the Congress’s prospects if he goes the AAP way.

Many in the rival camp hold a similar view. They feel Sidhu’s popularity can boost the Congress campaign at the cost of the AAP.

A lobby within the Congress, which is opposing a move to make Captain Amarinder Singh the party’s nominee for the chief minister’s post, is backing Sidhu.

But Sidhu’s forum, which he launched early this month, has set riders for the Congress, saying there can’t be a truck as long as Captain Amarinder Singh is with the party.

“This game of playing one against the other will not work. Do they think the Congress president will throw me out of the party so that they can ally with the Awaaz-e-Punjab?” Amarinder Singh said.

Sidhu’s rivalry with the Captain goes a long way; apparently the former chief minister didn’t play a favourable role when the former batsman was convicted in a road rage death in 2006.

For its part, the AAP is in a similar situation. Its leaders HS Phoolka and Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi want Sidhu, but others such as parliamentarian Bhagwant Mann are not keen.

Read | Navjot Sidhu is back to negotiating with Congress and AAP