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Udta Sidhu: Why A Happy Landing is Unlikely

01/09/2016 3:58 PM IST | Updated 02/09/2016 8:30 AM IST
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On 18 July, Navjot Singh Sidhu went to the chairman of the Upper House to submit his resignation as a BJP parliamentarian, barely three months after his nomination. He was wearing a bright yellow turban – a colour that is associated with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The next day at a press conference, he wore the same yellow turban. But no longer. The colour has not suited him and his politics.

There was no promise from Kejriwal of being made the Chief Minister, no appointment as star speaker. Only respect.

Arvind Kejriwal, in three quick tweets, made it very clear that, firstly, he respected Sidhu who, secondly, needed more time to think and, lastly, he would continue to respect him whether the former cricketer joins the Aam Aadmi Party or not. For his efforts, all Navjot Singh Sidhu got out of Kejriwal is that elusive thing called respect. There was no promise of being made the Chief Minister, no appointment as star speaker. Only respect.

So, high-flying Sidhu is left floating in the political stratosphere with no place to land, at least for now. Where did he go wrong and how did he miscalculate so badly?

Sidhu committed the cardinal sin of underestimating Arvind Kejriwal, as many before him have also done. This humble, smiling, chappal-clad aam aadmi is in fact a political assassin; anyone who comes in his path or threatens to do so is ruthlessly swept aside. Ask Anna Hazare, Prashant Bhushan or Yogendra Yadav... in fact, another name has also been added to that list recently. Punjab state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur is the latest to be thrown out. Only someone like Kejriwal could have suspended two out of a total four MPs just because they were a political hindrance.

Why then would Kejriwal tolerate Sidhu, who with his celebrity status can be a bigger leader, especially when he himself is fed up of being a glorified mayor in Delhi and would like to have a go at real power as Chief Minister of Punjab? The AAP leader is reportedly already looking for a house in Punjab; Manish Sisodia can keep his slippers on the throne and rule Delhi for whatever it is worth.

Why would Kejriwal tolerate Sidhu, who with his celebrity status can be a bigger leader, especially when he himself is fed up of being a glorified mayor?

Not that ruling Punjab will be easy for this man who actually belongs to Haryana. The Badals have already raked up Chandigarh and the water issue with neighbouring Haryana. The Akalis as well as Amarinder Singh have called him "topiwala" (a euphemism for "outsider") which may not be a pleasant thing in a state which has a 65% Sikh population. To compound matters, things are not as rosy for AAP as they were in 2014 when they got 24.4% vote in their first outing. But Kejriwal is nothing if not a risk-taker.

Where does it leave Sidhu? Amarinder Singh is tempting him, saying that the Congress is in his DNA, but it will be difficult for the cricketer-turned-politician to now adopt the white turban although Sidhu is running out of options.

Or will it be ghar wapasi? Considering his namesake wife Navjot participated enthusiastically in the BJP Tiranga Yatra and Sidhu still holds his primary membership of that party, nothing is impossible. But the big question is, will Sidhu himself be ready to return with his tail between his legs?

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