Chandigarh, Jan 16: The Congress was all smiles after it roped in Navjot Singh Sidhu into the party on Sunday. For the Congress its most realistic chance lies in Punjab when compared to the other poll bound states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa.
Sidhu is likely to contest the Amritsar East seat and may be made the deputy chief minister if the Congress wins the elections. Despite being out of action for long, Sidhu still continues to be a popular face in Punjab.
Nearly 50 per cent of the Punjab voters is in the age group of 18 and 39 and Sidhu would make a difference here. This was the vote base that the Aam Admi Party was targeting and with Sidhu's entry into the Congress, the AAP is likely to face very stiff competition.
Sidhu would be the star campaigner for the Congress. He is likely to address at least 70 rallies in the state. Popular among the youth and known for his humourous speeches, Sidhu will be a vote puller for the Congress.
Sidhu would also help the Congress in bringing the anti-Akali Sikh vote. The Akalis are suffering from a major anti-incumbency factor and this may prove beneficial especially for the Congress.
The Congress has already put out its list of 110 candidates for the 117 assembly seats. There are indications that Sidhu's Awaz-e-Punjab may be offered some of those seats.
There are certain formalities that are still being worked out, Congress leaders say. The Congress, however, says that although no formal announcement has been made, Captain Amarinder Singh would be the CM candidate.
The BJP's reaction after Sidhu joined the Congress clearly was a worried one. They referred to Sidhu as a Kapoot or a bad son. They even accused him of betraying his mother (the BJP).
State BJP president, Vijay Sampla said, "Sidhu used to call BJP his mother. He betrayed his mother who gave him a political stage, name, fame--everything, made him an MP thrice, and made his wife an MLA.The BJP only gave him, never took anything from him."
Sidhu's political journey so far:
--Sidhu was elected from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in 2004 on a BJP ticket.
--In 2006, he resigned after being convicted for homicide in the 1998 road rage case.
--After the Supreme Court suspended his sentence he contested the by-election from Amritsar in 2007 and won.
--He retained the Amritsar seat in 2009 as well.
--In 2014, he did not contest the Lok Sabha elections and made way for Arun Jaitley instead.
--In 2016, he was nominated to the Rajya Sabha.
--On July 18, 2016, he resigned from the Rajya Sabha and subsequently from the BJP as well.
--He was in talks with the Aam Admi Party. Talks, however, broke down.
--Sidhu launched his party, the Awaz-e-Punjab.
--Sidhu joined the Congress on January 15.