Cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Sidhu on Tuesday said that his crossing over to the Congress happened after around 60 visits by election strategist Prashant Kishor, who was helping craft the party’s campaign ahead of the 2017 assembly elections in Punjab.
“Prashant Kishor met me at least 60 times asking me to join the Congress,” he told NDTV in an exclusive interview.
Mr Kishor, he added, was apprehensive about the prospects of the party and thought his addition will help swing a chunk of votes. “PK said the Congress won’t get over 30-35 seats. If you (Sidhu) come, there will be a swing of 7-8 per cent,” he said. “Then Bhai rang me up,” he said.
The Congress came to power in the assembly elections, winning 77 out of 117 seats.
Mr Sidhu took the plunge in January 2017, after weeks of talks with the Aam Aadmi Party. Mr Sidhu said the AAP chief had sent him feelers too and when they finally met, Arvind Kejriwal did not offer him a party ticket for either house of parliament and wanted him only to campaign for the party.
Mr Sidhu said Rahul Gandhi was the one who got him on board for Congress, pledging loyalty to the Gandhis “as long as I breathe”.
Prashant Kishor quit his role as the advisor to the Punjab Chief Minister last year — weeks before Amarinder Singh stepped down as the Chief Minister in September after a year-long tussle with a section of MLAs led by Mr Sidhu.
Amarinder Singh, Mr Sidhu said today, was “insecure”. “He never wanted anyone, even a little bit to stand with me. He opposed me, when I came to the Congress,” he said.
Mr Sidhu, who apparently failed to become the “people’s choice” for the post of the Chief Minister this week, said the whole question of who becomes the party candidate for Chief Minster becomes redundant if the Congress fails to win 60 seats in the assembly.
“If we have 60 MLAS, we will choose CM. If we do not have 60 MLAs, the whole thing turns. Then whether somebody else forms the government or it a hung assembly, is in God’s hands,” he said.