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Punjab

Speculation rife over AAP getting in touch with Sidhu

June 04, 2020 05:45 AM

COURTESY TOI JUNE 4

Speculation rife over AAP getting in touch with Sidhu
No Such Talks In My Knowledge: LoP Cheema
TIMES NEWS NETWORK

Chandigarh/Amritsar:

A fresh round of speculation over Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) opening channel with Congress MLA from Amritsar (East) Navjot Singh Sidhu to switch sides ahead of the 2022 assembly elections is keeping state party leaders anxious as the state unit is not involved in any such deliberations.


AAP sources confided that though there had been backchannel talks as a section of AAP is keen that Sidhu be brought on board, there is nothing concrete at this juncture. “The last time too, Sidhu had stopped short of joining AAP before the 2017 elections due to lack of clarity over the role he would be given in the party. This time, he would ensure the terms are clearly spelled out,” said an AAP leader, requesting anonymity.

The sources in AAP told TOI on Wednesday that poll strategist Prashant Kishore is likely to mediate for Sidhu’s entry into AAP. Punjab Congress is already consulting its MLAs and other leaders on their opinion about hiring Kishore’s services as poll strategist for the 2022 assembly election When contacted, Leader of Opposition (LoP) Harpal Singh Cheema said, “It is not about Navjot Sidhu alone, any leader who wants to stand up against the two traditional parties of Congress and SAD, which follow the same policies when in the saddle, is welcome in AAP. But talks with Sidhu to join AAP are not in my knowledge at this stage,” he said.

At the same time, many in the AAP feel that with a little less than two years still remaining for the next elections in Punjab, it will be a bit early for Sidhu to make a switch.

Earlier, there was talk of Sidhu joining AAP in February and party’s state president Bhagwant Mann had said that there was no official communication with the former Congress minister.

Some AAP leaders in Punjab have publicly said that Sidhu would be an asset for the party, but others are not sure about his possible role as the existing leadership has failed to put up a united front in the past.

To complicate the matter, sources in the ruling Congress party are of view that Sidhu could again be inducted into Punjab cabinet on instructions of party high command to ensure a truce between him and chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh ahead of the 2022 assembly elections.

The rift between the CM and his cabinet minister became public during the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections in May 2019 and in June that year Sidhu was divested of his local government, tourism and cultural affairs portfolios and given the charge of power and new and renewable energy. Sidhu never took over the new ministry and withdrew from public only to return with the opening of one-way communication through his YouTube channel Jittega Punjab in March 2020.

A senior Congress leader, who wished to remain anonymous, said the ruling party was aware of Sidhu’s ‘excursions’ and there was a group within the Punjab Congress, which wanted him to be re-inducted as minister with a portfolio of his choice.

 

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