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Sidhu’s political itch has landed him in bumping Congress

[dropcap]F[/dropcap]inally, looking at the strong future of Congress in Punjab, the so called unsteady politician Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the party ahead of assembly elections after meeting with its vice president Rahul Gandhi, who welcomed him into the party. The 58-year-old ex-cricketer had quit BJP in September last year, complaining that he had been sidelined in the saffron party. At that time, he also accused Congress for corruption, and tried to join Aam Aadmi Party(AAP), assuming that he would be declared as chief ministerial candidate, but Kejriwal asked him to campaign for the party and Sidhu changed his mind. Sidhu, as a politician, has never contributed much to Indian politics, but always tried to hop for various options to make his position strong. He was tipped to join the Congress a month ahead of polling in Punjab but the delay happened because of his professional commitments. That professional commitment is nothing than the comedy show where he is assigned to laugh like a sidekick and entertain people. His wife and Punjab MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu had joined Congress in November along with his political aide Pargat Singh.

Sidhu will be Congress’s star ‘pracharak’ in the state and will contest from Amritsar East assembly constituency seat. Senior party leaders said the Gandhi scion was keen to bring Sidhu on board before Punjab polls. Congress feels Sidhu’s popularity, both as a former cricketer and as a celebrity, could help it consolidate its support in the state as well as projecting him as a strong vocal opposition to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and BJP. However, Congress cannot ignore that the fact, at this moment the party’s position is stronger than Sidhu himself. Well, whatsoever, now all eyes are on the party’s performance.

After resigning in July from the Upper House, for weeks he was in talks with both AAP as well as the Congress in Punjab. Former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who is leading Congress’ charge in the state, has also been keen on Sidhu’s entry.Congress is looking to snatch the power in Punjab after a decade from Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal led SAD-BJP combine government and is pitted against Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, which is running a high-decibel campaign.Sidhu came on board after lengthy negotiations and several rounds of meetings with Mr. Gandhi. Sources said that he would be given the Amritsar seat -over which he had quit the BJP – and one ticket per family for some of his supporters. Election will be held in Punjab on February 4.

Captain Singh, a presumptive Chief Minister, is also yet to commit to Mr. Sidhu’s reported claim for the office of Deputy Chief Minister in case of a Congress victory. The Captain has said a decision will be taken by Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi at an “appropriate time”. Sidhu had alleged that he had been forced to surrender his Amritsar parliamentary seat by the BJP ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who had lost. Captain Amarinder Singh, who won, has vacated the seat to lead the Congress campaign in the state.

After retirement from cricket Navjot Singh Sidhu took up television commentary, TV shows, and politics. In 2006, he was convicted for homicide in a 1988 road rage incident, where upon he resigned from his political position, but after appealing in Supreme Court, the sentence was suspended, and he won the by-election for his seat. Earlier, he used to be seen in a popular Indian comedy show, Comedy Nights with Kapil as a permanent guest. But now is seen in The Kapil Sharma Show. Sidhu, was first sent to Lok Sabha on BJP ticket from Amritsar seat in 2004 General Elections, 2004. After resigning due to a court case as said earlier, he stood again after the ruling was stayed. He won a by-election with a good majority. In the 2009 general elections, he retained the Amritsar seat defeating Om Prakash Soni of Congress by 6858 votes. Navjot Singh Sidhu took oath as a member of the Rajya Sabha on April 28, 2016. As per reports, 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 1991, Sidhu was accused of assaulting Praveen Shah and causing his death. Sidhu was arrested by Punjab Police after the incident and had to spend several days in a Patiala jail. It was reported that Sidhu had an accomplice named Bhupinder Singh Sandhu who helped him in the murder of Gurnam Singh. However, Sidhu denied all charges against him. He claimed in court that he was innocent and “falsely” involved by the complainant in the case. 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, Sidhu resigned as a Member of Parliament and in January 2007 appealed to the Supreme Court. The apex court stayed his conviction and sentence allowing him to contest and win the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in February 2007.

The versatile Sidhu made a special appearance in the film Mujhse Shaadi Karogi. Sidhu acted in a Punjabi movie Mera Pind. In the movie, he played the role of a NRI Navroz Singh Lamba, who has chosen to settle in his native village and spread the message of empowerment and entrepreneurship amongst the village youth. The film was released on 20 September, 2008. Sidhu has made a cameo appearance in the Varun Dhawan starrer ABCD 2 with his all-time comedy mate Kapil Sharma.

He lacks loyalty and is greedy for fulfilling his own ambitions. He tried all possible openings and finally settled as a comedian, sometimes making fun of other sometimes mocking himself. Let’s see, how this new chapter of party hopping brings some concrete break for his hidden ambitions and hope that it does not result in any political carnage.

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Dr. Vaidehi Taman
Dr. Vaidehi is an Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and an Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. Since 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond the news (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which she caters for her sister-concern Kaizen-India Infosec Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

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