Former BJP parliamentarian Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday floated a new political front 'Awaaz-e-Punjab' online - putting an end to all speculation of his joining the Aam Aadmi Party.
Hockey Olympian and Punjab's ruling Shiromani Akali Dal legislator Pargat Singh and two Independent legislators, Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains, have also joined hands with Sidhu.
The 'Awaaz-e-Punjab', a political front not a party, will be formally launched next week in Chandigarh, party insiders said.
"We have decided to form a new front to fight all forces which have ruined Punjab. A formal announcement of the new front would be made in the next three-four days at a place to be decided soon," Pargat Singh, who was suspended from the Akali Dal, told PTI.
Sources said after his talks with AAP "failed", Sidhu decided to float the outfit along with some like-minded people and held a meeting with suspended Akali legislator from Jalandhar, Pargat Singh, and Bains brothers of Ludhiana - Simarjeet Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains, both of whom won as independent legislators.
They were featured in a poster, also posted on Pargat Singh's Facebook post.
They announced the political front to contest Punjab assembly elections, slated early next year.
Former captain of the Indian hockey team Pargat Singh, the sitting Akali Dal legislator from Jalandhar Cantt assembly seat, was placed under suspension along with another Akali legislator Inderbir Singh Bolaria for "anti-party activities" on July 19.
"Pargat Singh, Bains brothers and we have formed a fourth alternative," Navjot Kaur Sidhu, wife of the cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu, told IANS.
Sidhu had resigned from the Rajya Sabha on July 18, sparking off speculation that he may join the AAP.
Aam Aadmi Party's state unit recently sacked chief Sucha Singh Chottepur, and its suspended Member of Parliament Dharamvir Gandhi are likely to join the front along with AAP and Akali Dal rebels.
Simranjit Bains said the front would contest on all 117 seats of Punjab.
The AAP, which has made it a triangular contest in Punjab by giving a tough fight to ruling Akali-BJP combine and Congress, was taken aback by the development as there were talks of Sidhu joining the party after deserting the BJP.
Sidhu had in mid-August met Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal at his residence and discussed with him his plans of joining the AAP. Kejriwal on August 19 said the cricketer- turned-politician just needs "time to think" and that Sidhu "has not put any pre-condition", a reference to speculation that Sidhu wanted to be the chief ministerial face of AAP.
Kejriwal had said his respect for Sidhu will continue irrespective of whether "he joins (AAP) or not".
Posters showing a photograph of Sidhu, Pargat and Bains brothers together were today posted by the front's leaders that said the four have joined hands for the politics of hope and faith.
"Our battle is against such forces that ruined Punjab," they said in the poster, claiming they have been tried and tested and have lived up to the aspirations of people.
Independent MLA from Ludhiana South Balwinder Bains, also told PTI, "We have jointly formed a new platform Awaaz-e-Punjab".
Asked when it was decided to form the outfit, Bains said,
he, his brother and Pargat Singh had held a meeting at Sidhu's house in Delhi on Wednesday.
"Our main intention for coming together was to save Punjab from drug scourge, mafia system working in the state," he said.
The AAP is already facing internal bickerings in its Punjab unit in the aftermath of removal of its state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur.
Asked whether it was a setback for AAP's prospects in next year's Assembly election, Himmat Singh Shergill, an AAP leader in Punjab said, "The Aam Aadmi Party is based on an ideology and not on an individual. People are with us.
The poster also mentions a couple of famous Punjabi writer Surjeet Patar, saying, "So what if it is autumn now, you believe in the next season. I will bring saplings after finding them, and you save the land for flowers."
Both Bains and Pargat said they were also in talks with the other "like-minded people who want to save Punjab and Punjabiyat".
"We are in talks with several leaders. But I cannot reveal their names at this moment," they said.
While Sidhu is a former Amritsar Lok Sabha MP from BJP, Pargat Singh is an MLA from Jalandhar Cantt and was suspended by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in July along with another MLA from Amritsar (South) Inderbir Singh Bolaria for alleged anti-party activities.
Pargat, a former Hockey Olympian and a former Director of Sports in Punjab, was also speculated to join AAP earlier.
Independent MLAs from Ludhiana, Bains brothers, were inducted into SAD fold as associate members in the state Vidhan Sabha. But both developed differences with Akali Dal after Simarjeet Bains decided to contest as an Independent candidate from Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat in 2014, which he lost.
Asked about the development, AAP leader Sanjay Singh said, "We have got information that they have made some morcha or front. Only they can give information on this.