Talks between former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and the Aam Aadmi Party are on, AAP senior leader Sanjay Singh said on Thursday amid suspense over which way the cricketer-turned-politician would go after the Congress said it had no reservation if he joined the outfit “unconditionally”.
“Talks are going on with Sidhu. There is no denying this. Talks have been underway for the past 4-5 days,” Singh said.
Sidhu held a meeting with the AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s confidante Durgesh Pathak late on Wednesday.
A source said the former BJP MP is pushing for the deputy chief minister’s post. Sidhu has demanded seven-eight seats, including seats for Hockey Olympian Pargat Singh and two Independent legislators, Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains, he said.
A section of the party favours an alliance with Sidhu’s outfit Aawaz-e-Punjab rather than the former BJP MP joining the AAP. “An alliance with Sidhu’s Awaaz-e-Punjab will boost party’s prospects but giving him deputy CM’s post will not go well with the party cadre,” the source said, adding that the alliance will help strike a balance between the demands of the two sides.
Sidhu had last month floated his ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’ forum in what many had thought was the outcome of his failed talks with the AAP. After the development, Kejriwal had said his respect for Sidhu would continue irrespective of whether “he joins (AAP) or not”, indicating that the party had not shut its doors on him.
The AAP is not keen on giving Sidhu the deputy chief minister’s post but it is ready to induct his wife into the cabinet if the party comes to power, the source said. “Our party constitution states that we cannot give seats to two people from one family. Since the Bains brothers are sitting MLAs, they would want tickets, a demand which we would not be able to fulfil,” the leader added.
Sidhu had earlier attacked Kejriwal and dubbed the AAP as “anarchy in the garb of democracy”, saying Kejriwal wanted only “yes men”.
In a clear indication that talks with the former BJP MP leader were progressing, Singh said not too much should be read into Sidhu’s utterances, asserting that the two sides were engaged in talks for a bigger cause, which was to “save Punjab”.
“A long time has passed (since Sidhu made these remarks), if we get involved in small things, then Punjab’s interests will take a backseat. What he has said in his speech or in his statement, that is not the issue, that is not important.
“The issue is how to save Punjab, how to save the state from corruption, from drug menace, how we will restore the lost glory of our farmers. We are thinking about this and we have to think about these issues,” Singh said.
Asked if the AAP has offered Sidhu the post of the deputy chief minister in case the party wins next year’s Punjab polls, Singh said, “At this stage, the only thing I can say is that talks are going on.”