Sidhu makes political comeback with Rajya Sabha nomination (News Analysis)

New Delhi, April 24 (IANS) Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha is not only expected to improve the BJP’s prospects in next year’s assembly polls in Punajb but the party is also expected to gain from his articulation of issues in the upper house.

Sidhu, who was sidelined in the party apparently due to his critical views on the Shiromani Akali Dal, had preferred to lie low over the past year in an apparent strategic move.

Sidhu had won the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in 2009 but did not contest in 2014 when senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley was fielded from there, apparently under Akali Dal pressure. Jaitley lost.

Sidhu’s nomination has also put at rest speculation that he may join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) due to his known unhappiness with the Akali Dali leadership.

His wife Navjot Kaur, a legislator from Amritsar East, has been taking on the Akalis on several issues.

The Bharatiya Janata Party and SAD are allies in Punjab and are expected to together fight next year’s assembly polls.

BJP vice president and in-charge of Punjab, Prabhat Jha, indicated that Sidhu will play a role in national politics.

“I don’t see Sidhu’s nomination to Rajya Sabha through a political prism. It should be seen in national perspective as he is a national figure,” Jha told IANS.

Jha said Sidhu had been a world class cricketer and was a good commentator and natural orator. “His nomination to the Rajya Sabha will not only increase his own dignity but of the upper house too.”

Tarun Chugh, another BJP in-charge of Punjab, welcomed the decision.

“As far as his role in state politics is concerned, our central leadership will definitely take a call when the time comes,” Chugh added.

A BJP functionary told IANS on the condition of anonymity that Sidhu’s nomination to the Rajya Sabha will send good signal to the Sikh-Jat voters in Punjab.

“Definitely, it’s a setback for the AAP, which was wooing him,” he said.

Sidhu has been a steady campaigner for the BJP in elections. He has appears in popular TV shows and is known for his wit.

Sidhu is among six persons the Narendra Modi government has recommended for nomination to the Rajya Sabha.



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