<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The prospects of Navjot Singh Sidhu joining the Congress ahead of next year’s assembly elections have brightened with the former cricketer, who left BJP over two months back, meeting Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh in the capital here.Confirming the meeting, Amarinder today said Sidhu was inclined to support the Congress and would soon make an announcement regarding his plan. “I can tell you that I have met him. I hope very soon he will be making his announcement. I found him in a very positive frame of mind. I hope it will be a positive decision,” Amarinder said.The former Punjab Chief Minister said he does not think that Sidhu is interested in contesting the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat and is likely to campaign for the party. “He just has to make up his mind whether he has to carry on with his work or whether he wants to actively join politics. The way he is talking, I feel he would like to campaign for the Congress party, but that he would announce himself,” he said.Asked specifically if Sidhu will be formally joining the Congress or not, the PCC chief said, “I think he will announce it himself. Let’s wait for the announcement in a few days time. But the impression I got, without any commitment from his side, is that he was inclined to support us.” Sidhu’s entry into Congress has been speculated for a long time now.His wife Navjot Kaur joined the party recently, giving ample indications that he would also come on board. Sidhu was earlier in talks with AAP but it did not materialise leading to a split in his recently formed outfit Awaaz-E-Punjab.Two formidable members of Awaaz-E-Punjab and sitting independent MLAs – Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains from Ludhiana, parted ways with Sidhu to join the Arvind Kejriwal led AAP. Pargat Singh, the other member, joined the Congress along with Sidhu’s wife.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Punjab Cabinet on Tuesday decided to denotify the land acquired for the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal project with immediate effect and return it to its owners free of charge.”The Punjab Cabinet today in public interest has decided that the land acquired for the SYL canal project is free from all encumbrances and stands denotified with immediate effect,” the Chief Minister’s Advisor on National Affairs and Media Harcharan Bains said. The land shall forthwith vest with the original owners, their lineal descendants or legal representatives, “free-of- cost”, he said.The meeting was presided over by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Necessary orders are being issued to bring the decision in effect immediately, Bains added. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today declared that it would not allow the construction of the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal and said Punjab has not a drop of water to spare for any other state. The core committee of the SAD at a meeting declared its firm resolve not to allow the construction of the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal as that will deprive Punjab of its legitimate claim on the waters of the rivers that flow through it.”Punjab neither has a drop a water to spare for any other state, nor is there any legal or constitutional provision by which it can be deprived of its right over the waters of rivers that flow through it, nor will even a single drop of water belonging to Punjab be allowed to be taken out of the state,” the SAD observed. The Core Committee of SAD asked the President to ignore the advice of the Supreme Court as it did not answer any of the issues raised by him.”We stand by the Constitution and the Constitution guarantees us absolute and exclusive right over the waters of rivers that flow through it. If Punjab cannot get water from Ravi and Beas, will it get it from Brahmaputra and Tung Bhadra?” felt the Core Committee members. A resolution passed at the Core Committee meeting today said, “The SYL is neither necessary, nor feasible, nor is there a single drop of spare water available to flow through it, nor will it be allowed to be built.”Punjab itself faces the horrific prospect of turning into a desert because of acute water scarcity and shocking pace at which the sub soil water level is falling.”Besides, no state through which a river does not flow can be given water forcibly,” said the resolution.Giving details of the Core Committee meeting proceedings, party’s general secretary and Chief Spokesperson Harcharan Bains said that the party is concerned and surprised over the advice of the Supreme Court to the President “which completely overlooks the purpose for which the President had sought the apex court’s opinion. The Core Committee said the Supreme Court’s advice, does not answer of the four issues addressed to it by the President of India.The first of these issues was whether the Termination of Agreements Act 2004 was illegal and unconstitutional. The Apex court did not answer that, he said.The Court was required to give details of provisions to support its opinion, he said adding that it did not offer any.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Talks between former BJP MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and Aam Aadmi Party are going on, AAP senior leader Sanjay Singh said in Chandigarh on Thursday, even as suspense continued over which way the cricketer-turned-politician would finally go after Congress recently maintained that it had no reservation if he joins the outfit “unconditionally”.”Talks are going on with Sidhu. There is no denying this. Talks have been underway for the past 4-5 days,” Singh told reporters here. Sources said Sidhu held a meeting with AAP’s co-in-charge and Delhi Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s confidante Durgesh Pathak here late last night. They said former BJP MP is pushing for the deputy chief minister’s post and added that the bone of contention was also some 7-8 seats which Sidhu has demanded, including seats for Hockey Olympian Pargat Singh and two Independent legislators, Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains.They also indicated that a section in the party favoured an alliance with Sidhu’s outfit Aawaz-e-Punjab rather than the former BJP MP joining AAP. “An alliance with Sidhu’s Awaaz-e-Punjab will boost party’s prospects but giving him deputy CM’s post will not go well with the party cadre,” they said, adding, the alliance will help strike balance between the demands of the two sides.They indicated that the party was not keen on giving him the deputy chief minister’s post but it was ready to induct his wife in the Cabinet if the AAP comes to power. “Our party constitution states that we cannot give seats to two people from one family. Since the Bains brothers are sitting MLAs, they would want tickets, a demand which we would not be able to fulfil,” the leader added.Sidhu had last month floated his ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’ forum in what many had then thought was the outcome of Sidhu’s talks with AAP having “failed” at that time. After the development, Kejriwal had said his respect for Sidhu will continue irrespective of whether “he joins (AAP) or not”, indicating that the party had not shut its doors on him.However, Sidhu had later attacked Kejriwal and dubbed AAP as “anarchy in the garb of democracy”, saying the AAP chief wanted only “yes men”. In a clear indication that talks with the former BJP MP leader were progressing, Singh said not too much should be read into Sidhu’s utterances, asserting that the two sides were engaged in talks for a bigger cause which was how “save Punjab”. “A long time has passed (since Sidhu made these remarks), if we get involved in small things, then Punjab’s interests will take a back seat. What he has said in his speech or in his statement, that is not the issue, that is not important.”The issue is how to save Punjab, how to save the state from corruption, from drug menace, how we will restore the lost glory of our farmers. We are thinking about this and we have to think about these issues,” Singh said.Asked if AAP has offered Sidhu the post of the Deputy Chief Minister in case the party wins next year’s Punjab polls, Singh said, “At this stage, the only thing I can say is that talks are going on.” On whether Sidhu and other members of his forum will join AAP or will there be any alliance with his forum, Singh said, “The whole formula will be put before you. What will happen and how it will happen, all this you will come to know but wait for some time.” Asked at what stage these talks were, he said, “They are currently on, but I cannot tell you at what stage these are. When we take a final decision, it will be made public”.Praising the role played by Sidhu in raising a voice for what was right, Singh said, “And in this (their effort to save Punjab), there are some people who have played a role for state’s betterment, our effort is that all such people should join hands. This is a fight for justice and all such forces should come together.” “In the interests of Punjab, all those people we need to talk to, we will do that,” he added.”We will make honest efforts for it but what the result will be, this only time will tell. We have not set any time frame for these talks (with Sidhu) but when we make any final decision, we will make it public,” he said. Asked if Sidhu was an important factor for Punjab, Singh said, “Look, he and his wife (Navjot Kaur, who was BJP MLA from Amritsar-East) raised their voice on issues concerning people, they raised voice against the Badals and how they were plundering the state”.On Sidhu reportedly also negotiating with Congress, Singh replied, “It will be better if you put this to question to Sidhu or Congress…but as far as our talks are concerned, they focus on common issues of how to save Punjab…”To another question, Singh said the upcoming Punjab polls will be fought under Kejriwal’s leadership. Replying to another query, he said, AAP has no problem in inducting the members of Sidhu’s Awaaz-e-Punjab forum.Regarding Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav’s claim that AAP’s graph had gone down in Punjab, Singh said, “AAP will win more than 100 seats and SAD-BJP will be completely wiped out.” “What we did in Delhi, history will repeat itself in Punjab. People are wise, they know that many forces have taken (electoral) plunge which will try to create obstacle but these forces will face defeat,” he said.On if Kejriwal will contest from Punjab, Singh said, “These are your speculations.” He also hit out at the ruling Akalis who have claimed that AAP will fail to create an impression in the upcoming Punjab polls and took a dig at those alleging that the AAP government in Delhi had failed to deliver on its promises.”In Delhi, all that we had promised in our manifesto, we have worked to fulfill them. We had promised to make power cheaper by half, we promised free water, we talked about Mohalla Clinics, we did all this. We improved standard of education in government schools, installed CCTV cameras in buses for women’s security, ended Raid Raj and Inspector Raj, odd-even formula became a worldwide hit. Our work speaks for itself. Earlier, people used to say learn from (developed nations like) the US, now world is saying learn from Kejriwal and AAP,” Singh said.
<!– /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.
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’Awaaz-e- Punjab’, a forum launched by former BJP Rajya Sabha MP Navjot Singh Sidhu, will hold a meeting in a day or two to clear the air about forging of an alliance for the state polls.”We shall have a meeting in a day or two to take a call on alliance,” Independent MLA Simarjit Singh Bains said today. Bains, who is part of the forum, said Sidhu is expected to come to Ludhiana in a day or two and then the meeting might take place. All members, including former hockey captain Pargat Singh, will have a meeting, he said.On Monday, ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’ had said it is looking at forging alliance for the upcoming Punjab Assembly election, while ruling out the possibility of joining any fourth front so as not to play a “spoilsport” by dividing anti-incumbency votes. However, Bains said the front would not align with Amarinder Singh-led Congress in Punjab.”Amarinder is hand-in-glove with the Badals, his dubious and behind-the-curtain deals with the Badals are an open secret. There is no question of betraying the people of Punjab. Politics is a mission not a profession. This is a war between the right and wrong. We will be on the right side and back Punjab,” Bains said in a statement. Cricketer-turned-politician Sidhu a few days back had announced that he would not float a party to contest the Assembly election as he did not wish to play a “spoilsport” by dividing anti-incumbency votes.He had said they had decided against forming a political party as it is too short a time to prepare for the polls, but added they were open to an “alliance” for betterment of Punjab.Bains said he has sought time from Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for a meeting to discuss with him an issue pertaining to water.”I today came to meet Badal in Chandigarh. But when I reached here I came to know that he is unwell,” he said. “I will try to meet him once he recovers from illness,” he said.