Navjot Singh Sidhu’s relationship status with the Congress remains complicated, but a resolution and an announcement are expected soon, said sources on both sides.
Mr Sidhu, who is currently in Delhi, has recently met Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and negotiations with the cricketer-turned-politician are reportedly being handled by the team of election strategist Prashant Kishor, who is helping the Congress with its campaigns in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
The only gap, said sources, that now remains is Mr Sidhu’s reluctance to merge his recently floated Awaaz-e-Punjab with the Congress ahead of assembly elections to be held in the state early next year. He wants a pre-election alliance.
But Captain Amarinder Singh, chief of the Congress in Punjab and the party’s presumptive chief minister, is clear that Mr Sidhu must join his party.
Captain, said sources, wants to prevent a situation where the new ally could walk out if the elections results are close and align with another party, read Aam Aadmi Party, with which Mr Sidhu has held protracted negotiations ever since he resigned from the Rajya Sabha in July and started looking for an alternative to his party, the BJP.
On the table, said sources, is a clear offer from the Congress. If it comes to power and Captain moves to the chief minister’s post, Navjot Singh Sidhu will get back the Amritsar seat in parliament that he held for a decade and which the BJP denied him in 2014, promptly losing it to Amarinder Singh.
The Congress has also promised to field his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu from the assembly seat she held as a BJP lawmaker and give her a minister’s post in Punjab.
Najvot Sidhu’s key aides and partners in the Awaaz-e-Punjab, former hockey star Pargat Singh and the Bain brothers who are independent lawmakers in Punjab, reportedly favour a merger with the Congress and are working to make Mr Sidhu come around.
A second round of talks with Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP have came to naught. After the first breakdown in negotiations, Mr Sidhu had accused Mr Kejriwal of “wanting only yes men.”