After cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has steered clear of forming his own party “to prevent split in anti-incumbency vote”, rebel AAP leader Sucha Singh Chhotepur said on Saturday he would soon announce his own party to give Punjab an alternative to Akali Dal-BJP, Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
“Punjab can’t be run from Delhi. Those disillusioned with all these three parties, need an alternative. There is a space for a fourth front in Punjab and we will fill it up. I will try my best to bring all natural allies on board. I am completing formalities for registering my new party and will announce it as soon as it is registered,” Chhotepur told HT at his residence.
On Sidhu, he said he had delayed the launch of his party waiting for the final decision of Sidhu: “I was waiting for Sidhu to decide. He is welcome to join us. He is also talking of Punjab, Punjabi and Punjabiyat and so are we. We want to bring together Sidhu, Pargat Singh (suspended SAD MLA), Bains brothers (independent MLAs Simarjeet and Balwinder), Dharamvira Gandhi (suspended AAP Patiala MP) and many others. I have yet to meet Sidhu or Bains brothers but I have spoken to Pargat. We will clear on whether we can all come together after Sunday’s joint meeting called by Gandhi at Chandigarh,” Chhotepur said.
The poll math of Chhotepur behind launching his own front is the belief that “disillusioned” Akali voters will neither go to the Congress nor AAP but to the fourth front. “So will AAP voters and volunteers unhappy with the style of functioning and controversies courted by Arvind Kejriwal’s party in Punjab and Delhi. Chhotepur’s Akali Dal background too may stand him in good stead,” his strategists say. With Sidhu not coming out in open support of the fourth front, the move to float his own party is also being seen as Chhotepur’s way to flex his political muscle as unlike Sidhu, he has burnt his bridges with the AAP.
The AAP, on its part, dubbed the possibility of fresh talks with Sidhu as premature. “Nothing can be said as of now. It would be premature to say whether we will again talk to him,” its Punjab affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh said. Political analysts believe Sidhu’s Awaz-e-Punjab is trying to emerge as a pressure group before elections. “Sidhu would never like to become a full-time politician by leaving a lucrative career as a television commentator and entertainer. Nor does he seem cut out for the rough and tumble of politics. A front gives all four leaders better negotiating power and they would agree to tie-up with the party that agrees to their terms of engagement,” they say.
With Sidhu launching a frontal attack on “Badal-Amarinder nexus” but his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu not ruling out Congress as an ally, the party, too, is not sure whether Sidhu is batting against its Punjab chief Captain Amarinder Singh or the Congress. “Does Sidhu have any clarity on what he wants? I have known him as a small boy and I don’t know why he is targeting me,” Amarinder said.