Why Sidhu in AAP will get more brickbats than bouquets in Punjab polls

Kumar Shakti Shekhar
Kumar Shakti ShekharJul 18, 2016 | 22:01

Why Sidhu in AAP will get more brickbats than bouquets in Punjab polls

Come elections - Assembly or parliamentary - and there is a spate of defections.

While some click, others don't.

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu resigning as a nominated Rajya Sabha MP is being touted as a major jolt for the BJP and a big gain for the Aam Aadmi Party, which he is set to join.

However, he may fail to enthuse the voters in Punjab, which goes to polls in early 2017.


The BJP gained immensely by inducting Union minister of state for rural development, Ram Kripal Yadav, a former Lalu Prasad loyalist who defeated the RJD supremo's daughter Misa Bharti from Pataliputra in Bihar in 2014 Lok Sabha elections. However, inducting former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, now Puducherry governor, just before the Delhi Assembly elections proved a major disaster, with the BJP winning just three of the 70 seats.

Sidhu, who is now mostly seen on TV comedy shows, is likely to be declared the AAP's CM face in the forthcoming Punjab elections. However, the timing and manner in which the BJP leader has resigned will only go against him and also the AAP, which is hoping to snatch power from the SAD-BJP alliance in the state.

Here is why:

1. Questionable timing

Nominated to the Rajya Sabha on April 22 by the BJP, Sidhu remained an MP of the Upper House for barely three months. Questions will be asked that if he had to resign so soon, why did he accept the Rajya Sabha nomination in the first place?

Secondly, Sidhu resigning on the first day of the monsoon session of Parliament reflects poorly on him. He could have chosen some other day - either before the session or after it. But he had two aims - to get the maximum media coverage and hurt the BJP the hardest.


Parliament sessions are covered by the national media. The opening day of any session is observed very keenly not only by the political pundits but also the politically-inclined common man.

Sidhu's choice of the day will also be seen as a betrayal not just to the BJP but also Modi, who himself had taken a keen interest in his Rajya Sabha nomination.

Soon after that, Sidhu, a former three-time Lok Sabha BJP MP, had said: "... The present nomination by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is significant for me as he is a great role model for me... "

But Sidhu had to sever his links from the BJP as well as tender his resignation from the Upper House on a day when the prime minister himself had made an effort to reach out to all the political parties and expressed confidence about a "smooth session".

For this, Sidhu will be viewed as someone who let his own party leader and the country's prime minister down.

Will former BJP leader prove a lucky mascot for Arvinbd Kejriwal?

2. Erosion of credibility

For resigning from the BJP and joining the AAP at this juncture, Sidhu will be described as an "opportunist". Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who is BJP's parliamentary secretary in Punjab, too, resigned from the party.


Hitherto, the two never had any grievances against the BJP.

In fact, Sidhu called Union finance minister Arun Jaitley a "fatherly figure".

"Two years ago, I had refused the Rajya Sabha seat in lieu of relinquishing the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat for a fatherly figure (Arun Jaitley)," he had said after his Rajya Sabha nomination. In fact, his wife had even campaigned for Jaitley in the 2014 elections.

Navjot Singh Sidhu's wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, campaigning in 'Modi' cap, for Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in Amritsar during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The Sidhus quit the BJP because of their sharp differences with SAD's first family - Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal and others. The two wanted the BJP to sever ties with the SAD. Sidhu had declared that he would not campaign in Punjab Assembly polls and his wife would not contest under the present alliance.

On the other hand, the AAP is bitterly opposed to the BJP. The AAP will expect the Sidhus to attack the BJP. This would surely put the Sidhus in a catch-22 situation. If they do not lash out at the BJP, their AAP leaders will chastise them, and if they do, they stand the risk of losing credibility.

The present situation

As it is, the AAP is on the defensive in Punjab following the party's goof ups that included equating its election manifesto with the Sikh's holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, and printing broom, its symbol, on the cover of the document alongside a picture of the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine.

The AAP is not in the same position of strength which it found itself before this controversy broke. There are protests and anger against the AAP.

The party leaders, including Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, have been profusely apologising to the people of the state.

Kejriwal even performed "sewa" (service) at the Golden Temple on July 18, the day Sidhu quit the Rajya Sabha, by washing utensils at the community kitchen for 45 minutes.

In such circumstances, it will not be surprising if Sidhu fails to appease the Sikh voters and, hence, does not end up helping the AAP's cause in the Punjab polls.

Last updated: July 18, 2016 | 22:02
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