POLITICS

Navjot Singh Sidhu Resigns From Rajya Sabha, Might Be Headed To AAP

There is talk of Sidhu joining the AAP ahead of Punjab Assembly elections.

18/07/2016 4:17 PM IST | Updated 18/07/2016 10:03 PM IST
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Ajay Verma / Reuters
Former Indian cricketer and lawmaker Navjot Singh Sidhu (C) gestures to the media outside a court in Chandigarh December 6, 2006.

In a surprise move, BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu today resigned from Rajya Sabha amid rising speculation that he could join the Aam Aadmi Party.

The resignation of 52-year-old Sidhu, who was nominated on April 22, has been accepted by Chairman Hamid Ansari with immediate effect.

While he was not available for comments, there is talk of Sidhu joining the AAP ahead of Punjab Assembly elections and may be made the party's face in the state. Sidhu did not answer calls made to him.

Sources close to Sidhu were tight-lipped about the future move of the cricketer-turned-politician.

Ajay Verma / Reuters
Navjot Singh Sidhu, lawmaker from India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and a former cricket player, holds hands of his party workers as he is arrested by police after the clashes between police and BJP party workers during a protest against fuel price hikes in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh June 23, 2008. REUTERS/Ajay Verma

"Nominated member Navjot Singh Sidhu today tendered his resignation from Rajya Sabha and the Chairman has accepted his resignation with immediate effect," Gurdeep Sappal, OSD to the RS Chairman told .

Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P J Kurien also announced in the House that the Chairman has accepted the resignation of Sidhu. Sources said that Sidhu has been miffed with the party over the treatment meted out to him ever since he was made to make way for Arun Jaitley in Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Sources said that Sidhu has been miffed with the party over the treatment meted out to him ever since he was made to make way for Arun Jaitley in Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

His wife, Navjot Kaur, who is Chief Parliamentary Secretary in Punjab where BJP shares power with Akali Dal, had created a flutter on April 1 (April Fool's day) announcing her resignation from the BJP.

"The burden is over," she had written on her Facebook post on April 1, but after a meeting with top BJP leaders in Delhi, she said, "All is well" and she is very much a part of BJP in Punjab. Both Sidhu and his wife share an uneasy relationship with the Akali leadership.

Munish Sharma / Reuters
Former cricketer and politician Navjot Singh Sidhu (in red turban) gestures to his supporters in Amritsar February 27, 2007.

With speculation rife over the issue, the AAP said in Chandigarh that it would welcome Sidhu with open arms if he joins the party.

"If he joins our party, we will welcome him with open arms," the AAP's Sangrur MP, Bhagwant Mann who is also party's campaign committee chairman, said.

When asked if Sidhu has approached AAP or vice versa, Mann said that is not the case so far. "He has not got in touch with us nor have we got into touch with him," he said.

Asked if Sidhu could be made AAP's Chief Ministerial candidate in case he decides to take the plunge, Mann said, "Whoever joins AAP, he is clearly told that it has to be unconditional.

"Even when I had joined AAP, I had said that I will be happy if I am assigned just the duty of pasting posters of the party. I want to make it clear that there is no race for any post in our party...the CM candidate will be decided by the party," he said.

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