Cricketer-turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned on Monday from the Rajya Sabha, less than three months after he was nominated to the upper house. However, he remains a member of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The resignation comes ahead of the 2017 assembly election in Sidhu’s home state of Punjab, where the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP combine that has ruled for 10 years is facing voter discontent.

In 2014, Sidhu had vacated his Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency for finance minister Arun Jaitley, who contested from there in the general election. Senior leaders of the party said that the former cricketer was annoyed with a section of party leaders because he was asked not to contest from Amritsar.

Sidhu’s resignation has reignited rumours that he is headed for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which will be contesting the Punjab election. Although there is no official statement yet, there are indications that Sidhu may join AAP.

An AAP leader, who did not wish to be identified, said the party is in talks with Sidhu and he is likely to join the party soon. To be sure, there is no official confirmation on the same.

“Appreciate Navjot Sidhu and Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu move, looking forward for their welcome to AAP Punjab," AAP Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chotepur said on Twitter.

AAP has been campaigning in the state ever since it won the Delhi assembly election in 2015. The campaign so far has been led by AAP national convener and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. The party has not announced a chief ministerial candidate for the state.

Sidhu first contested Lok Sabha elections in 2004 from Amritsar and continued to represent the constituency till he was asked to vacate the seat for Jaitley. The cricketer has had constant tussles with senior leaders of the state government. Sidhu’s wife, Navjot Kaur, is a member of legislative assembly (MLA) in Punjab.

The absence of Sidhu before assembly elections will hurt the BJP. He was the party’s most popular face in Punjab and played a crucial role in campaigning in Delhi and other north Indian states.

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