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BJP may shift Sidhu from Amritsar to Delhi

April 22, 2013 22:17 IST

The BJP feels that Navjot Singh Sidhu will prove to be a draw among the youth, the middle classes and the Sikh community in Delhi, reports Sunita Moga

With cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu indicating that he will not contest the next Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party leadership is planning to placate the popular Amritsar MP by offering him a seat in Delhi in the coming general election.

Sidhu hit the headlines recently when his wife Navjot Kaur publicly stated that her husband would not fight the next election from Amritsar as he was feeling suffocated in the BJP which had sidelined and ignored him.

Although the BJP was upset with Sidhu’s wife for airing her differences in public, party chief Rajnath Singh had moved quickly to mollify the former cricketer who has won three times from Amritsar.

BJP sources disclosed that the party is looking at the possibility of shifting Sidhu to a seat in Delhi while senior party leader Arun Jaitley may be fielded from Amritsar.

Sidhu has run into trouble with the local party leaders in Amristar and has developed serious differences with Akali Dal leader and Punjab state minister Bikram Singh Majithia. The feud between the two came to the fore in the last municipal corporation elections over the choice of candidates. In fact, the BJP central leadership is convinced that Sidhu’s wife’s outburst is primarily due to the couple’s problems with the Akali Dal leader and not with the saffron party.

By shifting Sidhu to Delhi, the BJP would put an end to this ongoing battle in Amritsar. At the same time, it believes, Sidhu would prove to be a winning candidate in Delhi. The BJP had failed to win a single Lok Sabha seat in Delhi in the 2009 polls but with the Congress facing strong anti-incumbency, the saffron party is convinced the time is now ripe to dent the Delhi citadel.

According to BJP insiders, one chief reason their party was decimated in all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi was because of wrong choice of candidates. The internal assessment is that the party would have fared far better had it fielded candidates from Poorvanchal and the Jat and Sikh community in deference to the demographic profile of the Delhi Lok Sabha constituencies. Sidhu, it is felt, will prove to be a draw among the youth, the middle classes and the Sikh community and will successfully tap the simmering anger among these sections against the Congress-led UPA government.

Sidhu’s shift to Delhi would also pave the way for Arun Jaitley to contest from Amritsar. The senior BJP leader has never contested a Lok Sabha election and has always been a Rajya Sabha member.  Positioning himself as a possible prime ministerial candidate, Jaitley has been scouting around for a safe Lok Sabha seat so that he is not left out of the leadership race on the plea that he is a Rajya Sabha member.

As a result, Sidhu’s running battle in Amritsar could prove handy for Jaitley. The former cricketer has not spoken out but has instead fielded his wife Navjot Kaur, a BJP MLA from Amritsar (East), to do all the talking on his behalf. She created a stir when she recently posted on the social networking site about her husband feeling “sidelined and ignored” in the party.

Continuing in the same vein, she had said “My husband will not contest the Parliamentary election from Amritsar and a decision in this context was taken long back as the BJP ignored and sidelined him and his local team  which has been working in the constituency for more than a decade now.”

Hitting out at the BJP, she had further said that she and her husband harbored a strong grudge against the party leadership as Sidhu was not allowed to run the show in Amritsar because of his honesty. She charged that Sidhu was not consulted in the selection of candidates for the state and civic elections. She had even pointed out how Sidhu had left the television reality show “Big Boss” to campaign for the BJP in the Gujarat Assembly polls but this was not appreciated by the party.

Sunita Moga in New Delhi