<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress on Friday extended an olive branch to former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, saying he was “most welcome” to join the party and insisted that its Punjab unit chief Amarinder Singh was on the same page.Amid speculation over Sidhu joining the party, Singh met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and is learnt to have discussed the issue besides the political situation in poll-bound Punjab. Sources said Singh is also learnt to have discussed the party’s prospects in Punjab and about the probable candidates for the upcoming assembly polls.Congress, which is seeking to wrest power after a decade of political wilderness, is trying to strengthen its position and sees Sidhu as an effective campaigner who could add more punch in reaching out to people at a time when Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP is keeping it on tenterhooks. “Sidhu is most welcome to join the party. It will be a wise decision on his part,” Congress spokesperson Ajoy Kumar told mediapersons while replying to a volley of questions on the issue.He added that if Sidhu recognises the leadership and the values of the Congress and joins the party, it would be a wise decision on his part and we welcome his wisdom.Former PCC chief Pratap Singh Bajwa has been batting for Sidhu while Singh has lately been critical of the cricketer- turned-politician. Sidhu, who quit his Rajya Sabha seat and the BJP, formed a non-political outfit Awaaz-e-Punjab but is yet to align with any party. Earlier, he was speculated to join the AAP that did not materialise. Asserting he is not aware whether Congress and Awaaz-e-Punjab are engaged in talks or not, Bajwa said if the party is not engaged in talks, it must open communication channel with the Sidhu-led front, so as not to let the anti-Badal votes get divided in the upcoming Punjab polls. “I want to appeal to the Congress high command that it should take Navjot Singh Sidhu on board in the joint fight against the tyrannical Akali-BJP rule in the state,” the former Punjab Congress chief said.”As the former PPCC chief and now MP, I want talks should be initiated with Sidhu… for the betterment of Punjab and Congress,” Bajwa said. Notably, Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and the party’s Punjab affairs in-charge Asha Kumari had repeatedly said no talks is going on with Awaaz-e-Punjab. However, Awaaz-e-Punjab member and Independent MLA Simarjit Singh had claimed Sidhu was in touch with the Congress high command for alliance and Amarinder “very well knows” about it.”Congress must open channel with Navjot Singh Sidhu. Talk to him and bring him on the table and he should be convinced, because he has taken a public stand that he is against the Badals and wants an end to the SAD-BJP rule,” Bajwa said. He said talks should also be held with other members of the forum like Pargat Singh and the Bains brothers.Asserting that “anti-Badal” votes should not split, he said, “There is a need to defeat Badals and there is no need to get into all this (that whether talks are on or not).” Bajwa also said the party should not repeat the “mistake” it committed in the last Punjab Assembly elections.”I had appealed to the Congress high command during 2012 polls that talks should be held with Manpreet Badal’s Peoples’ Party of Punjab for alliance. But my suggestion was not accepted and we lost the polls,” he claimed.”I feel that the revival of Congress will start from Punjab if we are able to win the upcoming assembly polls,” he said.

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Punjab Elections 2017: Sidhu welcome to join, says Congress