Denied ticket for 2017 polls, MLA from Baghapurana constituency of Moga, Maheshinder Singh, has quit Akali Dal alleging bias, police harassment and ill-treatment by SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal. Son of senior Congress leader late Gurcharan Singh, Maheshinder, in this interview with Divya Goyal, opens up on his decision to leave party, regret over leaving Congress and more. Excerpts:
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You joined SAD in 2008 leaving Congress. Now, in 2016 you have quit SAD too. Is this not political opportunism? Is it only tickets that matter?
It is not opportunism. My decision to quit SAD is not because I have been denied ticket. It is because police entered my home to harass me. We can be loyal party soldiers, not slaves. I left Congress due to some circumstances which turned against me. They were giving me ticket from Baghapurana in 2007 but I wanted Moga. However, this time I see no reason why I have been denied ticket. I don’t want any competition with any of my colleagues, but I can confidently say I am the most popular and accessible in my constituency. There must be some compulsions to which Sukhbir Badal has bowed this time.
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What are those compulsions according to you?
Some people from within the party were unable to digest my clean image, popularity and hard work. I will not name anyone but deputy CM needs to answer why I have been denied ticket. Is there any vigilance or graft case inquiry pending against me? No.
Your party colleague and agriculture minister Tota Singh has alleged you are hand in glove with Nihal Singh Wala MLA Rajwinder Kaur in this revolt plan.
It is extremely sad that being the most senior party leader from Moga, he never gained that sense and maturity. Tota Singh always wanted his one-man show in all four constituencies of Moga. He never liked three other MLAs, Joginder Pal Jain of Moga, Rajwinder Kaur of Nihal Singh Wala and myself from Baghapurana. He wants to place his own men in all four seats and rule over Moga district. Maybe that is the compulsion Sukhbir did not dare to defy. Tota Singh had never been on good terms with any of three MLAs and that is on the record.
Do you regret leaving Congress?
In a politician’s life, there is nothing called regret. You never know who leaves you when. For instance, now police dared to harass MLA of a ruling party. I called all top cops and other officials but none helped me. On advice of my senior lawyer friends, I chose to resign. Else, they were ready to link me and my son with a gangster. I had good innings with Congress and I left without any enmity.
In five years, how have you found deputy CM and CM as party leaders?
Wadde Badal saab (CM Parkash Singh Badal) is a gem. He is humble, kind and grounded person who treats junior leaders like humans. I would simply not like to comment on Sukhbir Singh Badal’s style of treating his own men. He might be party’s God, not mine.