Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa: What’s going on between Navjot Sidhu and AAP?

Having upped the political volume in Punjab with his resignation from the Rajya Sabha, Navjot Sidhu can afford to remain invisible. After all, his wife Navjot Kaur is doing the talking for him. She says she is Navjot’s “Chela” or follower and whatever he asks of her – she will do. For now, what she appears to be doing is not doing something many would have expected.
She is not resigning from the SAD-BJP combine, a political structure she has been criticising more than many in the opposition despite being an “insider”. Her SAD-BJP party colleague Pargat Singh criticised the government and quickly got a suspension order. Even the Akali leadership’s strange double standards over party indiscipline perhaps have their own story to tell.
Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa: What’s going on between Navjot Sidhu and AAP?
Now that is why Sidhu’s silence is all the more deafening. Over endless cups of chai by day and spirited drinks by evening, almost all permutations and combinations have been run through the Punjabi Election Processor. Will Sidhu really join the AAP? If he does join AAP will he be the CM face? If Sidhu is projected as just the star campaigner, then why exactly is Sidhu in the AAP camp at all? Will a new party be floated that would eat into AAP votes that would have in turn eaten into the Congress vote and thus make it a little likely for a combative SAD-BJP combine to be back in power? Will Navjot Kaur be the fighting face of the Sidhu family for AAP and then vacate her Amritsar seat to make way for Sidhu to contest and stand a chance at leading Punjab? Will Sidhu have to go through the uncertainty of working up the AAP ranks and settle in before he is given any assurance of being a CM possibility? Is Sidhu actually a better bet outside AAP than within it? There is an argument for every scenario, such is the flexibility of political logic.
Navjot Kaur says Sidhu has no options left but to join the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab. Punjab’s third front AAP is facing a major leadership crisis in the state. Bhagwant Mann, perhaps AAP’s most visible face doesn’t cut it as a Chief Ministerial candidate in the perception games. Navjot Sidhu’s as yet unsettled joining settled the question of the AAP’s state leadership during the initial burst of enthusiasm – that is, until the much awaited Sidhu appearance in Delhi , sporting a bright yellow turban – the preferred color of AAP, turned out to hide more than it revealed.
The foot soldiers of AAP while uneasy with the idea of an aggressive, fast talking former cricketer convicted in a road rage killing being projected as the CM face of the state know they don’t have much choice in the matter. In a contest where Congress will be led by Capt Amarinder Singh, the SAD-BJP combine by the older and younger Badal duo, AAP can’t afford to be on a weak footing at the top despite a strong grassroots support base – something the other parties are struggling with.
So much is the silence of the otherwise voluminous Sidhu that Arvind Kejriwal himself has had to step in to tweet: “Wud Navjot Sidhu ji join AAP- lot of rumours? It’s my duty to put forward our side. We have greatest greatest regard for this ckt legend. He met me last week. Didn’t put any pre-condition. He needs time to think. Let’s respect that.He is a v gud human being n a ckt legend. My respect for him wud continue whether he joins or not”.
It’s still whether he “joins or not”.
So what exactly is Sidhu weighing in before he silences the noise? Perhaps he should know he would be attacked by the Congress for his “convicted in a road rage killing case” and would be portrayed as a hot headed shallow leader against a mature if not laid back Captain Amarinder Singh. Sidhu’s wife has already made her opinion clear: “The case against Sidhu is not a criminal case, it is a case of road rage and Amarinder has taken up propaganda against Sidhu”.
However, this thought did not prevent Capt Amarinder Singh from inviting Sidhu to join the Congress, an offer that stays open and perhaps more generous than before, saying they are both from Patiala, both are Sidhus and that Navjot’s father was a Congress supporter.
Sukhbir Badal has to fight a serious image problem of being perceived a bit more arrogant in the second term than he was in the first and likely to be more so if the Akali Dal gets lucky enough to bag a third one – something Prashant Kishor – Congress’ chief external strategist claims is in the realm of impossibility even if the opposite of that sentiment is shot back at him by the Badals..
So while brand AAP does need brand “Navjot Sidhu”, the subjective question of which brand brings value to the other is where the game is stuck. Both need the push they see in each other to give a shot to ambitions that might not play out otherwise. So while Navjot Singh Sidhu takes time to think and sense the wind, there will be deafening silence for a while more before the inevitable one liners and couplets are unleashed.