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Sidhu's resignation triggers seismic activity in Punjab, SAD sacks 2 MLAs

Rajeev Khanna | Updated on: 20 July 2016, 20:02 IST
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What set it all off?

  • Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned from the Rajya Sabha on Monday
  • There are speculations that his wife Navjot Kaur might resign as well


What followed

  • SAD sacked two of its MLAs for \'indiscipline\'
  • SAD also said that Sidhu\'s resignation will not affect the SAD-BJP combine


More in the story

  • Who are the 2 MLAs?
  • What does AAP, Congress have to say about Sidhu joining the party

Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu's resignation from the Rajya Sabha as a nominated BJP member has started a seismic activity in Punjab's political arena.

Even though Sidhu has not yet announced his next political move, reverberations of his decision are apparent across the political spectrum.

Also Read: Navjot Singh Sidhu resigns from Rajya Sabha

In what is being seen as a knee-jerk reaction to the developments regarding Sidhu, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has gone ahead and suspended two of its MLAs, Pargat Singh and Inderbir Singh Bolaria, from the party.

Although the reason given by SAD for the suspension is that 'indiscipline in the party would not be tolerated at any cost', observers say that the party wanted to avoid an embarrassing situation of the two quitting and joining some other political force.Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu's resignation from the Rajya Sabha as a nominated BJP member has started a seismic activity in Punjab's political arena.

Even though Sidhu has not yet announced his next political move, reverberations of his decision are apparent across the political spectrum.

In what is being seen as a knee-jerk reaction to the developments regarding Sidhu, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has gone ahead and suspended two of its MLAs, Pargat Singh and Inderbir Singh Bolaria, from the party.

Although the reason given by SAD for the suspension is that 'indiscipline in the party would not be tolerated at any cost', observers say that the party wanted to avoid an embarrassing situation of the two quitting and joining some other political force.

Saving face

Both the MLAs were once seen as blue-eyed boys of SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and had fallen out of favour with him over the last one year.

Bolaria, an MLA from Amritsar, had differences with the party leadership since last year and had reportedly attempted a rebellion of sorts . He had attempted to create a group of three MLAs against the SAD leadership amidst talks of him switching loyalties to the Congress.

It was cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia who had stepped in to win back his associates while Bolaria had been left to fend for himself.

The miffed MLA

Pargat had been brought to the SAD by Sukhbir with much fanfare but observers say that he was gradually sidelined as he was not given any important responsibility as had been promised.

The renowned hockey player who represented India in the Olympics twice, had been at unease in the SAD but the breaking point came when he opposed the government move to construct a solid waste disposal plant at Jamsher village in his Jalandhar Cantonment constituency.

With the government deciding to go ahead with the plan, Pargat had stopped turning up at government functions much to the discomfort of the Akalis who are battling heavy anti-incumbency.

The most embarrassing moment for the government came when he refused to take oath as a Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS) when the SAD tried to placate him with a new designation.

"Pargat enjoys a very good reputation among the electorate of his constituency. He would be an asset to any party he decides to join," said a senior media person who has worked in Jalandhar.

Senior Akali leader Dr Daljit Singh Cheema said that the suspension of the two MLAs came after their continuous anti-party behaviour.

Pargat has expressed his happiness over expulsion from SAD saying, "Earlier I was not sure whether to on stay in politics or not but after my suspension, I have decided to stay put."

He said that he will spell out his future course of action at the 'right' time.

Damage control

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has reacted to Sidhu's departure saying that the wise people of the state never forgive opportunistic and treacherous political leaders who ditch their mother party for the sake of short-term benefits.

The Akalis are trying to convey that Navjot Singh's departure makes no difference to them.

Sukhbir has also made it clear that Sidhu's resignation or his wife Navjot Kaur 's resignation as CPS and a BJP MLA, if tendered, would have no impact either on the SAD-BJP alliance or their electoral prospects.

Navjot Kaur has reportedly said that while her husband has resigned as Rajya Sabha member, she remains a BJP MLA and CPS for now.

There are speculations that she will soon follow her husband's footsteps, but only after a couple of months when there is no scope of a re-poll for her seat.

Congress calls dibs?

Amid such a scenario there came an overture welcoming Sidhu to the Congress by the party's Punjab president Captain Amarinder Singh.

After his resignation, Amarinder came out saying that it was already a foregone conclusion that he would join the Congress as he had been left with little other option.

Also Read: Congress' doors open for former Amritsar MP Navjot Sidhu

Amarinder used the occasion to hit out at the SAD-BJP combine in the state saying, "With someone in his situation pushed to the wall by the Akalis and his own party, the BJP, maintaining a conniving silence, Sidhu was left with little option other than resigning. He may have resigned from the Rajya Sabha only today, but we all know he had virtually withdrawn from active politics for a long time and he was left with only a token presence in the BJP now."

Inviting Navjot Singh to join the Congress, Amarinder recalled that he had a Congress background as his late father Bhagwant Singh Sidhu had remained an office bearer of the District Congress Committee in Patiala till his last days.

What's next?

Although Sidhu is yet to announce whether he would be joining the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is being expected, there are voices from within the party as that are in two minds about Sidhu coming on board and in what role.

Also Read: BJP terms Sidhu 'selfish'; AAP denies projecting him as Punjab's CM face

Former journalist and chairman of AAP's manifesto committee Kanwar Sandhu has reportedly said that Sidhu would have to mould himself in accordance with the AAP ideology and the party would have to ensure that his inclusion does not demoralise the cadres.

The issue of paratroopers has been confronting the AAP leadership for quite some time now.

Meanwhile, Sidhu's detractors have gone ballistic flooding the social media with clips of him lampooning the Delhi Chief Minister and AAP's National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal.

These clips show him making fun of Kejriwal, his coughing, his muffler and even going to the extent of calling him a fugitive.

There is also a debate going on about Sidhu's political acumen with critics pointing out that he has been a sportsman, a television personality, a commentator and a crowd-pulling orator but never a serious politician.

Critics point out that Sidhu has never spoken in depth on the various political issues of Punjab or even the nation.

Edited by Jhinuk Sen

Also Read: History stands against Sidhu. These 6 leaders left BJP only to fail

Also Read: Navjot Singh Sidhu is part of AAP, according to his Wikipedia page

Also Read: Navjot Sidhu in Rajya Sabha: BJP's damage-control exercise

Also Read: Nobody could have stopped Navjot Singh Sidhu from joining AAP, says wife

First published: 20 July 2016, 20:02 IST
 
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