Gold Silver Reports — THE BIG SQUARE OFF IN PUNJAB — The electoral battlefield of Punjab got a little more complicated with cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu launching his outfit Awaaz-e-Punjab: the fourth corner of this fight. Since Sidhu’s resignation from the Rajya Sabha, there were speculations that he would join the Congress or the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). These have been put to rest, but the other par ties will now have to reconfigure their strategies, with Sidhu becoming the unpredictable new factor.

“The redemption, resurrection and revival of this state is the aim of Awaaz-e-Punjab,“ Sidhu told journal ists in Chandigarh. But he also clarified that Awaaz-e Punjab is not a party but a forum whose future plans would be made public in the next 15-20 days. “We will work for Punjab and Punjabiyat. In the end, Punjab, Punjabis and Punjabiyat will win,“ he said.

Sidhu attacked the ruling combine of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and BJP: “Kaale badal (dark clouds, punning on the surname of CM Parkash Singh Badal) have shadowed Punjab and people are keen to see sunlight.“

The other members of Sidhu’s front include former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh, who was a SAD legislator, two independent legislators Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjeet Singh Bains. Pargat was last month suspended from SAD for “anti-party“ activities. Political analysts feel that Awaaz-e-Punjab will not be able to create major electoral tremors but did not rule out the forum cutting into AAP’s votes.

The day Sidhu launched his front, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal embarked on a four-day tour of Punjab, declaring that he would spend most of his time in the state. “Main khoota gaad kar baithoonga (I will stay put),“ he said.



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