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Ahead of Punjab polls, Navjot Singh Sidhu joins Congress, meets Rahul Gandhi

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the Congress on Sunday after meeting party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, ending a long period of vacillation for the three-time former MP.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2017 09:56 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Navjot Singh Sidhu,Congress,Punjab
Navjot Singh Sidhu with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.(Photo: INC India on Twitter)

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the Congress on Sunday after meeting party vice president Rahul Gandhi, ending months of speculation.

However, the formal joining of the three-time Amritsar MP will take place at the Congress headquarters in Delhi on Monday.

Sidhu was supposed to join the Congress last week but went incommunicado at the last minute.

The 53-year-old is known as a star vote-catcher who is likely to help the Congress overcome a strong fight from the Akali Dal and the AAP in the Punjab assembly elections. The northern state goes to the polls on February 4 and the Congress is hoping to come back to power after a decade.

Read| Punjab elections: Cong prods Sidhu to fight polls against Parkash or Sukhbir Badal

“Known for his straight talking, ideological commitment to nationalism as also wit and humour, we are certain the Congress party will be immensely strengthened in Punjab and elsewhere with the entry of Sidhu,” a press statement tweeted by Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala read.

Sidhu quit the Rajya Sabha in July and walked out of the BJP in September after months of acrimony. He was in talks with AAP but negotiations broke down late last year.

Read| HT Analysis: The importance of being Navjot Singh Sidhu

His talks with the AAP broke down after Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s party refused to name a chief ministerial candidate. The AAP had offered him deputy chief minister’s post.

The AAP suffered a shock when he suddenly decided to form his own political outfit, Awaaz-e-Punjab, along with former hockey captain Pargat Singh and Bains brothers – Simarjeet and Balwinder – in September.

Soon after, Sidhu once again opened the channels of communication with the AAP and simultaneously with the Congress as well.

In the meantime, his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who held the Amritsar East constituency in the Punjab assembly, also resigned from the BJP and on November 28 she along with Pargat Singh joined the Congress. Pargat had earlier quit the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). The Bains brothers had by then announced their alliance with the AAP.

First Published: Jan 15, 2017 12:26 IST