The ex-cricketer was formally inducted into the party by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Sunday.
Soon after joining the Congress, Mr. Sidhu tweeted: “Beginning of a new inning. On the front foot.. Punjab, Punjabiyat & every Punjabi must win!”
Punjab Congress chief Capt. Amarinder Singh, who was not present at the occasion, said it was “great news” and that Mr. Sidhu’s joining would further strengthen the Congress in the run-up to the State Assembly elections.
“Besides being the party’s choice for contesting the Amritsar East seat, Mr. Sidhu will be star campaigner in the Punjab Assembly polls for the Congress,” he said.
Mr. Sidhu, who hails from Patiala, became MP for the first time contesting on BJP ticket from the Amritsar in 2004. He later successfully contested the Amritsar bye-election and retained the seat in the 2009 general elections.
In April 2016, he took oath as a member of the Rajya Sabha, but resigned in July 2016, saying he was being sidelined in the party. Soon, thereafter he also quit from the BJP and later formed a new political front – Awaaz-e-Punjab, along with former hockey player Pargat Singh.
He had been in talks with the Aam Aadmi Party also. However, the talks failed. Mr. Pargat Singh and Mr. Sidhu’s wife, Dr. Navjot Kaur Sidhu, joined the Congress earlier on November 28 of last year but the ex-cricketer could not immediately follow suit because of certain professional commitments.
Meanwhile, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal of the Akali Dal lashed out at Mr. Sidhu, asking him to come clean and tell “Punjabis” why he was trying to fool them into voting for the Congress 20 days before the Assembly elections, after having been missing from Punjab for over seven months.
“Mr. Sidhu had earlier claimed while leaving the BJP that the Akalis did not let him enter Punjab.. Now please tell the people what stopped you from entering Punjab and meeting Punjabis after resigning from the Rajya Sabha seven months back? It’s obvious your commercial interests in Mumbai were more important to you than the people of Punjab,” he said.
Mr. Badal said the Congress would soon realise the Mr. Sidhu’s real worth. “Except for eliciting a few laughs like AAP’s Bhagwant Mann, he has no other role to play in the elections.”