New Delhi: Bhartiya Janta Party leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was recently nominated to Rajya Sabha by the party, on Monday resigned from the Upper House of the Parliament.
He was recently nominated as Rajya Sabha MP from Punjab. The resignation of 52-year-old Sidhu, who was nominated on April 22, has been accepted by Chairman Hamid Ansari with immediate effect.
"Nominated member Navjot Singh Sidhu today tendered his resignation from Rajya Sabha and the Chairman has accepted his resignation with immediate effect," Gurdeep Sappal, OSD to the RS Chairman told PTI.
Rajya Sabha deputy chairman P J Kurien also announced in the House that the Chairman has accepted the resignation of Sidhu.
Sources suggest that cricketer-turned-politician might joining the Aam Aadmi Party and could be made its face for the upcoming Punjab polls.
AAP has been campaigning in Punjab for the assembly elections that are scheduled in 2017.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his party's top leaders lapped up Sidhu's decision and hailed it as a bold step against corruption in Punjab.
"People can give their rt hand for an RS seat. Ever seen a sitting RS MP resigning to save his state? I salute Sidhu ji for his courage," Kejriwal, who is currently touring Punjab, tweeted.
In a brief statement after his resignation, Sidhu said, “At the behest of the honourable PM, I had accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination for the welfare of Punjab. With the closure of every window leading to Punjab the purpose stands defeated. It is now a mere burden. I prefer not to carry it.”
“"In the war of right or wrong, you can't afford to be neutral rather than being self-centered. Punjab's interest is paramount," Sidhu said.
Sidhu, however, did not reveal much about his future plans but there were indications that he was miffed with the state of affairs in his party.
Former Indian cricketer who was a member of 14th Lok Sabha from Amritsar was asked to make way for Arun Jaitley in 2014 general elections. He represented Amritsar from 2004 to 2014. Sources said that Sidhu has been miffed with the party over the treatment meted out to him ever since he was made to make way for Arun Jaitley.
His wife, Navjot Kaur, who is Chief Parliamentary Secretary in Punjab where BJP shares power with Akali Dal, had created a flutter on April 1 (April Fool's day) announcing her resignation from the BJP.
Both Sidhu and his wife share an uneasy relationship with the Akali leadership.
With speculation rife over the issue, the AAP said in Chandigarh that it would welcome Sidhu with open arms if he joins the party.
"If he joins our party, we will welcome him with open arms," the AAP's Sangrur MP, Bhagwant Mann who is also party's campaign committee chairman, said.
When asked if Sidhu has approached AAP or vice versa, Mann said that is not the case so far. "He has not got in touch with us nor have we got into touch with him," he said.
Asked if Sidhu could be made AAP's Chief Ministerial candidate in case he decides to take the plunge, Mann said, "Whoever joins AAP, he is clearly told that it has to be unconditional.
"Even when I had joined AAP, I had said that I will be happy if I am assigned just the duty of pasting posters of the party. I want to make it clear that there is no race for any post in our party...the CM candidate will be decided by the party," he said.
"But as party's campaign committee chairman, I want to say that our doors are open. Sidhu is a good orator with a clean image, who has also remained a star campaigner of his party. May be now, he finds that he does not enjoy that much freedom to express himself (in BJP)," Mann said.
Mann said AAP has promised to give a viable political alternative to the people of Punjab in the 2017 Assembly elections.
He said if people like Sidhu join the AAP it will be good for the party.
He also said, "From time to time, Sidhu's (MLA) wife (Navjot Kaur) has been raising questions on policies and programmes of the SAD-BJP Government including on the drug issue..."
AAP's senior leader and party's Punjab affairs in-charge, Sanjay Singh tweeted, "Navjot Singh Sidhu has taken a brave step by resigning from membership of Rajya Sabha and I welcome his decision."
Sidhu's wife is a BJP MLA from Amritsar-East constituency in Punjab and is known to take on her own government in the State on various issues.
Navjot Sidhu had in the past attacked Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal saying, "Badal Sahib, you promised moon to the people of Amritsar... Don't deny them basic needs. Don't abuse the word daughter and sister. I am ready to vacate my seat for your relatives."
Sidhu, a former Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar, was convicted in a culpable homicide case in Patiala and is out on bail.
(With PTI inputs)