In a huge setback to the BJP ahead of the Punjab Assembly polls, cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu has resigned from the Rajya Sabha.
He also hit out at the party, claiming it was preventing him from working for the state's welfare.
Sidhu, who may officially announce his future course of action in a day or two, but reports suggest that he is all set to join the Aam Aadmi Party and become its Chief Ministerial candidate for Punjab where assembly elections is due early next year.
On Monday, he went in person to meet Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari to tender his resignation. Later, Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien announced in the house that Sidhu's resignation has been accepted.
The resignation came as a big surprise to the Bharatiya Janata Party which shares power with the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab.
Sidhu, in a statement, hinted his unhappiness with the BJP, of which he was thrice an elected member of the Lok Sabha and presently a nominated member of the Rajya Sabha, saying: "In the war of right or wrong, you can't afford to be neutral."
Soon after resigning from the Upper House, Sidhu hit out at the BJP, saying the party despite nominating him to the Rajya Sabha had closed his doors in Punjab.
"I had accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination for welfare of Punjab. With closure of every window leading to Punjab, the purpose stands defeated, now a mere burden. I prefer not to carry it," he said.
"In the war of right or wrong, you can't afford to be neutral rather than being self-centred. Punjab's interest is paramount," he added.
Sidhu said he had accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination at the behest of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Even though there are reports that Sidhu is all set to join the Aam Aadmi Party, he has not yet resigned from the BJP.
Meanwhile, confirming Sidhu's move to join the party, AAP's Punjab convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur tweeted, "Appreciate Navjot Sidhu and Navjot Kaur Sidhu move, looking forward for their Welcome to @AAPPunjab2017 @AamAadmiParty."
Even though AAP leaders in Delhi have officially refused to confirm the development, they have not ruled out the likelihood of Sidhu and his wife walking across to the AAP.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he "salutes" the cricketer-turned-politician for his "courage" in quitting the Rajya Sabha.
"People can give their right hand for an RS (Rajya Sabha) seat. Ever seen a sitting RS MP resigning to save his state? I salute Sidhu ji for his courage," he said in a tweet.