Navjot Singh Sidhu’s negotiations with Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party are on the verge of collapse, say sources, which has meant missing a joining date of August 15.
There has, the AAP sources said, been no contact between party leaders and the cricketer-turned-politician in the past week after Mr Sidhu demanded that he be projected as chief ministerial candidate in Punjab, where elections will be held early next year.
Also, the 52-year-old cricket commentator has reportedly sought an election ticket for his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who is currently a BJP lawmaker in Punjab, but is expected to follow her husband out of the party soon.
AAP leaders have said they can meet neither demand. The party insists that Sidhu was being brought into the party as a star campaigner but was never a contender for presumptive chief minister of AAP, which hopes to replicate last year’s Delhi win in Punjab.
Also, leaders said, the party has a strict policy of fielding only one member from a family in an election and so it cannot accommodate both Mr and Mrs Sidhu as AAP candidates.
Though there has so far been no official confirmation from either side of a coming together, there was buzz that Mr Sidhu would join AAP on August 15, in a symbolic declaration of independence from the BJP.
He had resigned from the Rajya Sabha in July and said he was quitting because “the people of Punjab are looking for a change”. He later said BJP leaders had asked him to “not even look at” Punjab.
Mr Sidhu, who was nominated by the BJP to the Rajya Sabha in April this year, was upset after the party fielded now Finance Minister Arun Jaitley from Punjab’s Amritsar in the 2014 national election, denying him the chance to contest from the constituency he had represented for 10 years. When Mr Jaitley lost, Mr Sidhu was charged by local BJP leaders with sabotage.
Out in the cold for now, Mr Sidhu, sources close to him said, is exploring options, including the Congress, which had sent word earlier that its doors are open.