New Delhi, July 18: BJP leader and cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as a member of the Rajya Sabha on Monday, July 18.
52-year-old Sidhu is all set to join the Aam Aadmi Party and become its Chief Ministerial candidate for Punjab where assembly elections is due early next year. [Navjot Sidhu quits BJP: Who said what?]
"Navjot Singh Sidhu, nominated member, resigns from Rajya Sabha," Gurdeep Singh Sappal, OSD to the Vice President Hamid Ansari tweeted.
Choosing the very first day of the Monsoon Session to resign, he went in person to meet Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to tender his resignation. Later, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien announced in the house that Sidhu's resignation has been accepted.
Sidhu, in a statement, indicated his discontent with the BJP, of which he was thrice an elected member of the Lok Sabha and currently a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, saying: "In the war of right or wrong, you can't afford to be neutral."
Soon after resigning from the Upper House, Sidhu hit out at the BJP, saying the party despite nominating him to the Rajya Sabha had closed his doors in Punjab.
"I had accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination for welfare of Punjab. With closure of every window leading to Punjab, the purpose stands defeated, now a mere burden. I prefer not to carry it," he said.
"In the war of right or wrong, you can't afford to be neutral rather than being self-centred. Punjab's interest is paramount," he added.
Sidhu said he had accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
During 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Sidhu had paved way for BJP's senior leader Arun Jaitley to fight from his constituency Amritsar. Sidhu, upset with his party, refused to even enter Amritsar during the entire Jaitley campaign. But the wily Sidhu was in Amritsar just a day after the voting took place.
BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal are in an alliance in Punjab since 2007.
On April 22 this year, Sidhu was nominated by Modi government to the Rajya Sabha and on April 28, he took an oath as the Upper House MP. He was previously elected to the Lok Sabha thrice. [Navjot Singh Sidhu takes oath in Rajya Sabha]
On April 30 this year, Sidhu's wife had articulated her anger against her party's ally Akali Dal and said she will not contest the next Assembly polls on BJP ticket if the alliance continues.
In Nov 2015, there were reports that Sidhu will quit the BJP and join hands with Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party for 2017 assembly polls in Punjab. [Navjot Singh Sidhu, wife to quit BJP; likely to join AAP: Reports]
Then, Delhi Chief Minister Arivind Kejriwal had responded by saying that he will welcome cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu if he wanted to join the AAP. [Will welcome Navjot Singh Sidhu if he wants to join AAP: Kejriwal]
In the past few years, the BJP deliberately chose to ignore and even embarrass its best known face, Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was elected on the party ticket as MP of Amritsar thrice (2004, 2007 bypoll and 2009).
The AAP is looking for a big name to drive its campaign. It was Punjab's electorate which gave entry to the AAP in the Lok Sabha in the 2014 elections. The party won four seats - all from Punjab.