For the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the possible entry of cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu to its fold in Punjab could not have come at a better time.
The AAP’s bid to capture power in Punjab will receive a resounding fillip if Sidhu joins the party.
Sidhu’s resignation from his BJP-backed Rajya Sabha candidature comes at a time when even AAP members were becoming restless because the party failed to come up with a chief minister face for poll-bound Punjab.
If Sidhu does decide to join the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, he will emerge as a strong contender for the party’s chief minister face.
At a time when the Akalis are facing an anti-incumbency wave in the state, Sidhu’s image as their staunch critic is likely to help him win over voters.
Within the Aam Aadmi Party, Sidhu’s entry would put an end to the race among the party’s state brass to become its chief minister candidate.
AAP convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, campaign committee in charge Bhagwant Mann and Delhi-based senior advocate Harvinder Singh Phoolka were all vying for the top position in the run up to the polls.
Party insiders admit that neither one of them would have accepted the other as the chief ministerial candidate.
The Akalis, BJP and Congress were banking on rifts emerging within the AAP once it declared its chief minister face. However, the trio of Chhotepur, Mann and Phoolka are likely to back Sidhu’s bid.
“Talks with Sidhu have been going on for the past two –three days. If he decides to join AAP we will welcome him with open arms,” Chottepur said.
Mann said if Sidhu joined AAP then his workload as the campaign committee in charge will be halved.
“Six months ago, I said the party will welcome Sidhu. I am the happiest. As the campaign committee in charge, my work will be shared. Navjot Singh Sidhu is a very good speaker and that takes care of so many things,” he said.
Sidhu’s projection as AAP’s chief ministerial face will also put to rest the latent but widening schism between the party’s Delhi and Punjab leadership.
Till recently the party’s Delhi group — led by Punjab in charge Sanjay Singh, Durgesh Pathak and Ashish Khetan — were calling the shots.
However, following the manifesto blunder the party high command is said to have consciously decided to allow its Punjab leadership to take the front seat.
If Sidhu joins AAP, he is likely to take the reins of the party in the state in his hands.