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Sidhu resigns from RS amid talk of switch to AAP

Parliament Monsoon session

New Delhi : In a surprise move, BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu today resigned from Rajya Sabha amid rising speculation that he could join 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.

“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 PTI.

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.

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.

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.

“But as party’s campaign committee chairman, I want to say that our doors are open. Sidhu is a good orator with a clean image, who has also remained a star campaigner of his party. May be now, he finds that he does not enjoy that much freedom to express himself (in BJP),” Mann said.

Mann said AAP has promised to give a viable political alternative to the people of Punjab in the 2017 Assembly elections.

He said if people like Sidhu join the AAP it will be good for the party.

He also said, “From time to time, Sidhu’s (MLA) wife (Navjot Kaur) has been raising questions on policies and programmes of the SAD-BJP Government including on the drug issue…”

AAP’s senior leader and party’s Punjab affairs in-charge, Sanjay Singh tweeted, “Navjot Singh Sidhu has taken a brave step by resigning from membership of Rajya Sabha and I welcome his decision.”

Sidhu’s wife is a BJP MLA from Amritsar-East constituency in Punjab and is known to take on her own government in the State on various issues.

Navjot Sidhu had in the past attacked Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal saying, “Badal Sahib, you promised moon to the people of Amritsar… Don’t deny them basic needs. Don’t abuse the word daughter and sister. I am ready to vacate my seat for your relatives.”

Sidhu, a former Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar, was convicted in a culpable homicide case in Patiala and is out on bail.

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