After repeatedly tasting defeat since 2014 in assembly elections in states, Congress has finally formed the government in Punjab and Captain Amarinder Singh took oath as the Chief Minister. Out of nine ministers who sworn in Navjot Singh Sidhu, the cricketer-turned-politician who quit the BJP last year was third to be sworn in. Everyone predicted that Sidhu would be made Deputy Chief Minister, a post he has been keen on, but was inducted as a cabinet minister. He has been allotted the low-profile local bodies’ ministry in the Amarinder’s government. The minister for Panchayati Raj and Municipalities – Sidhu will get office on the fourth floor of the Punjab secretariat. This can be a massive heart breaking incidence for the cricketer-turned-politician who had hoped that he will be suitably rewarded for joining the Congress after resigning as BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP.
After quitting BJP, Sidhu humped at AAP, there Arvind Kejriwal did not assure him big perks as expected by the man himself. He held discussions with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and there were rumours that he wanted AAP to project him as the chief ministerial face for the Punjab polls and also demanded a ticket for his wife. But Arvind Kejriwal very clearly hinted that he would not “put any pre-condition” for Sidhu joining AAP. After the discussions with AAP did not work out, Sidhu formed Awaaz-e-Punjab party in September 2016. The party according to Sidhu, was apparently apolitical front. Awaaz-e-Punjab was not only criticised by AAP but also called a “tonga party” by, of all people, Amarinder. Perhaps the lowest point for Sidhu came in November when Awaaz-e-Punjab fell apart as two of its members, Simarjeet Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains, joined hands with AAP. It was at this point that Sidhu had been abandoned by every major party in Punjab. By the time Sidhu joined Congress his credibility took a beating. Congress won in Punjab all due to Captain Amarinder Singh’s hard work and his individual popularity. At a time when the Congress faced defeat in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, and Manipur, the party almost bagged a two-third majority in Punjab.
When you compare this time to Sidhu now being sworn-in as a cabinet minister in Punjab, you realise how important the victory must have been for him. Sidhu bit the bullet, ignored the “tonga” remark and past friction with Congress, set aside his chief ministerial ambitions and joined the party on 15 January, despite the fact that the party was performing miserably on the national level and various political experts and analysts were of the opinion that AAP would win the election. Sidhu touching Amarinder’s feet after his swearing-in shows that he still knows who the boss in Punjab is.
He has probably emerged as the biggest winner in the Punjab polls but not due to his popularity. It is the fact that before the state polls, he left a party which has been enjoying massive popularity across the nation since 2014 to eventually join one which has been consistently losing ground in states all over India and is in terrible shape right now.
Sidhu for the very first time won on a Bharatiya Janata Party ticket from the Amritsar seat in the 2004 general elections. After resigning due to a court case against him, he stood again after the ruling was stayed. He won by-election with a good majority. In the 2009 general elections, he kept the Amritsar seat defeating Om Prakash Soni of INC by 6858 votes. Sidhu took oath as a member of the Rajya Sabha on April 28, 2016. Sidhu was given the Rajya Sabha nomination in a bid to prevent him from joining the Aam Aadmi Party. However, he resigned from the Rajya Sabha on July 18, 2016. He along with Pargat Singh and Bains brothers formed a new political front – Aawaaz-e-Punjab claiming to fight against those working against Punjab. In January 2017, Sidhu joined the Indian National Congress. Contesting from Amritsar East in the 2017 Punjab Assembly elections, he won the election by a margin of 42,809 votes.
In 1991 Sidhu was accused of assaulting Gurnam Singh and causing his death. Sidhu was arrested by Punjab Police after the incident and had to spend several days lodged in a Patiala jail. It was reported that Sidhu had an accomplice who helped him in the murder of Gurnam Singh, the name of the accomplice was Bhupinder Singh Sandhu. However, Sidhu denied all charges against him. Sidhu claimed in court that he was innocent and “falsely involved in this case by the complainant party. Jaswinder Singh – nephew of Gurnam Singh – claimed that he was a witness to Sidhu’s crime and was ready to testify in the Supreme Court of India. In December 2006, Sidhu was found guilty and sentenced to a three-year prison term for culpable homicide following a road rage incident. Following the sentencing, he resigned as a Member of Parliament and in January 2007 appealed to the Supreme Court. Supreme Court stayed his conviction and sentence allowing him to contest and win the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in February 2007. Controversy and Sidhu walked hand in hand, the opportunist, who is fit to judge a comedy show tried his luck in all the political parties and finally got back to Congress and was sworn in as a cabinet minister. His expectations were not fulfilled as estimated by him. It would be interesting to see how he is going to manage with what he has been offered or takes another rebellious step as he already has proficiency in it.
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