New Delhi: The Congress is ready to talk to Navjot Singh Sidhu and, sources said, is willing to offer the star-cricketer-turned-politician somewhat more as joining bonus than the Aam Aadmi Party.
- Sidhu announced differences with the BJP last month
- Cricketer-turned-politician had been in talks to join the AAP
- Congress now courting Sidhu after AAP declines Sidhu's demands: Sources
Mr Sidhu, who publicly announced his disenchantment with his party the BJP last month, has been in talks to join Arvind Kejriwal's AAP ahead of elections in Punjab, to be held early next year.
Those negotiations, however, collapsed last week when, sources said, Mr Sidhu told Mr Kejriwal that he would like to be projected as AAP's chief ministerial candidate. He also demanded that place be made in AAP's Punjab list of candidates for his wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, who is currently a BJP lawmaker in the state assembly.
AAP has said it can accept neither demand. Mr Sidhu, it said, can be a star campaigner but must work up the party ranks for the top post. Also, it said party policy doesn't allow it to field more than one member of a family in an election.
The Congress has no such problems, the party has indicated amid reports that Navjot Singh Sidhu is exploring new political options. It will not offer Mr Sidhu presumptive chief minister, but will be happy to look at Deputy Chief Minister after two or three years, Congress sources said.
The party can also offer the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat to either Mrs or Mr Sidhu, whose disillusionment with the BJP began when the party fielded now Finance Minister Arun Jaitley instead of him in 2014 from the constituency that he had held for 10 years.
The Congress now holds the seat; Mr Jaitley lost to the party's Punjab chief Amrinder Singh.
But for all that, said Congress sources, Mr Sidhu must come to the discussion table first, something that has not happened so far.
AAP, which has not officially admitted to holding talks with the 52-year-old cricket commentator, has meanwhile slipped into a state of "Sidhu Who?"
"Our doors are open for honest politicians, not people who try to make deals. If you want to join us, do so without conditions," said AAP's Ashutosh without naming anyone, but added, "As far as I know Sidhu has not quit the BJP."