Navjot Singh Sidhu joined Congress ahead of Punjab Elections (File photo)
Navjot Singh Sidhu's launch as a Congressman has evoked a sharp response from the Badals of the ruling Akali Dal, with Punjab's Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal
describing the cricketer-turned-politician as a "human bomb" that will soon explode in the Congress' face.
"Sidhu is like a human bomb. I can give you in writing that he will quit the Congress party within six months," Mr Badal wagered today, soon after Mr Sidhu held a press conference and said he was "a born Congressman."
In the last six months since Mr Sidhu signaled that his career with the BJP was over by resigning from the Rajya Sabha, he has held protracted negotiations with Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party and started talks with the Congress only once AAP failed to meet his demands.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, 89, who is Sukhbir Badal's father, called Mr Sidhu's latest career move a sell-out to the Congress. "When Sidhu was with us, he used to call me father and used to respect me a lot. He left the BJP which gave him a big role and brought him to politics. And he was bargaining to the hilt whether he should join AAP or some other party," he said accusingly. The Akali Dal and BJP and partners both in Punjab and at the centre.
Union Minister and Sukhbir Badal's wife Harsimrat Kaur too attacked Mr Sidhu, accusing him of betraying the BJP. "He ran away to Laughter Challenge when he could have stayed to develop Punjab. He belongs nowhere," she said referring to Navjot Singh Sidhu's participation in comic shows on TV.
To his press conference today, Navjot Sidhu brought his best lines, after months of silence on his future plans since he quit the BJP, his party of 10 years. Mr Sidhu is expected to contest the Amritsar East assembly seat and offered no denial when asked if he was a contender for Chief Minister if the Congress wins Punjab in next month's election.
It was premature to talk about that, he said, offering this comment: "In politics there are no ifs and buts. If my aunt has a moustache I would have called her uncle."
Captain Amrinder Singh, so far seen as the Congress' presumptive chief minister, has said Navjot Sidhu will be a star campaigner for the Congress. He seems to have ducked plans to field him against one of the Badals.
Navjot Sidhu was the BJP's Lok Sabha MP from Amritsar for 10 years, but the party decided to field now union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley from that Punjab constituency in 2014, sending Mr Sidhu into the sulk that led to his quitting the party two years later. Mr Jaitley lost to the Congress' Amrinder Singh.