Once an ace player, Navjot Sidhu now struggles to find a team | Hindustan Times
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Once an ace player, Navjot Sidhu now struggles to find a team

Once regarded as the BJP’s ace crowd-puller, who could sway the electorate with his gift of the gab, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu now finds himself on the periphery of Punjab’s political set-up.

india Updated: Oct 11, 2016 00:32 IST
Gurpreet Singh Nibber
Sidhu’s focus on other professional commitments seems to suggest that the former Indian opener is more involved in the world of entertainment, with politics becoming his ‘side venture’.
Sidhu’s focus on other professional commitments seems to suggest that the former Indian opener is more involved in the world of entertainment, with politics becoming his ‘side venture’. (HT File Photo)

Once regarded as the BJP’s ace crowd-puller, who could sway the electorate with his gift of the gab, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu now finds himself on the periphery of Punjab’s political set-up.

Following his exit from the BJP, Sidhu has been clutching at straws in an attempt to regain significance in Punjab’s politics.

His chances of joining the Congress appear to have taken a hit after the party’s Punjab chief, Captain Amarinder Singh, labelled him “undisciplined”. Amarinder also deflated Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu’s claim that her husband was in talks with the Congress top brass by declaring that “no such talks were on”.

The 53-year-old outspoken leader now finds himself in a predicament as he has so far failed to side with any party after resigning from the BJP.

Sidhu appears to have made a political miscalculation by leaving his BJP-backed Rajya Sabha berth and floating a separate forum — Awaaz-e-Punjab — on September 2. The saffron party has made no efforts to bring Sidhu, who was once projected as its Sikh face and was a cause of envy for all opposition parties, back into its fold.

Political experts said Sidhu was able to achieve success in the BJP because of the party’s cadre strength and he would struggle to raise a political outfit individually.

The three-time Amritsar MP’s talks with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have also failed to reach any conclusion.

Sidhu currently finds himself preoccupied with a nationally-televised comedy show, giving only sporadic appearances before news-seekers. Sidhu’s focus on his other professional commitments seems to suggest that the former Indian opener is more involved in the world of entertainment, with politics becoming his ‘side venture’.

His irregular meetings with other Awaaz-e-Punjab members also cast doubts over his seriousness towards “the cause of Punjab”.

Once projecting himself as a symbol of the anti-Badal sentiment, Sidhu also started training his guns on Amarinder, which further limited his options after he fell out of favour with the BJP.

“By restricting his options, he has restricted his support base. He started as a significant factor but has now become one of the common factors,” Institute of Development and Communication’s Pramod Kumar said.

While resigning from the Rajya Sabha (RS), Sidhu had written, “With the closure of every window leading to Punjab the purpose (of joining RS) stands defeated ... now a mere burden. I prefer not to carry it”. After facing rejection from the Congress and talks with AAP not paying any dividends, it appears that a new political window may not open up for Sidhu.

However, former national hockey team captain and Awaaz-e-Punjab member Pargat Singh felt Sidhu’s current distant status in Punjab was only temporary. “It’s not the end of the road for (Navjot) Sidhu, he will re-emerge,” he said.

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