August 21, 2021 5:48:29 am
Former minister Anil Joshi who was expelled by the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) over his stand on the three contentious central farm laws on Friday joined the Shiromani Akali Dal and was immediately rewarded with party ticket from Amritsar North Assembly constituency – a seat he represented twice as saffron party candidate – for 2022 polls.
SAD president Sukhbir Badal, while inducting Joshi, also appointed him as party’s senior vice-president.
Sukhbir also named Raj Kumar Gupta, another former BJP leader who joined the Akali Dal with Joshi, as party candidate from Sujanpur.
Apart from Joshi and Gupta, former BJP MLA from Dasuya Sukhjit Kaur Shahi, former Bharatiya Yuva Morcha chief Mohit Gupta and a number of other leaders representing Hindu community joined the Akali Dal and were given various party positions.
Sukhbir has already announced that if the party is voted to power in 2022, there will be two deputy chief minister – one each from Hindu and Dalit communities.
The pitch during the induction of BJP leaders into Akali Dal largely revolved around “peace and communal harmony as advocated by Akali patriarch Parkash Singh Badal”. Both Sukhbir and the former BJP leaders harped on senior Badal’s move to ally with the BJP for ensuring the same in Punjab.
Sukhbir said his father always thought that “Punjab can progress if there is peace and communal harmony”.
“When I took over as SAD chief, my father told me not to take any decision, which could harm communal harmony. His main aim was that all religions should remain united,” said Sukhbir who ended his speech by saying “Jai Shri Ram, Assalam walekum, and Hallelujah”.
“Even at cost of my life and of party leadership, we will maintain peace and communal harmony in Punjab,” Sukhbir said.
Terming the the BJP leaders who joined his party as as “heerey” (diamonds), he added that the “other diamonds left in saffron party too will be inducted into SAD”.
He said, “90 per cent of the BJP leaders and activists want farmers’ ongoing agitation to end”.
Sukhbir said if SAD forms government, it will give job to the kin of “martyred farmers” who “sacrificed lives” while protesting against the three “black farm laws”. He said the Akali Dal government will not implement the “black laws” and will also give financial assistance
to family members of farmers who died during the agitation.
Lashing out at the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party, he said the two parties worked on commands from Delhi. He called Congrss “dhokhebaaz” (deceitful) and AAP government in Delhi led by Arvind Kejriwal as “anti-Punjab” for “trying to close thermal plants and pushing for construction of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal”.
He lauded Joshi for undertaking development works during his tenure as minister and hit out at state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu accusing him of indulging in “dramas” and not being able to “lay even a brick for any development work in two and a half year tenure as minister”.
Joshi who also focused his address on peace and communal harmony hit out at BJP leadership as he rued that protesting farmers were not “satisfied” by the government. He said that had BJP acted pro-actively, “the issue would not have become national and international”.
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