Two-time Member of Parliament from Ferozepur Sher Singh Ghubaya Monday resigned from the primary membership of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the move coming after a near two year cold war with the party. Minutes after he announced his resignation, the SAD issued a statement that Ghubaya has been expelled for “anti-party activities”.
Ghubaya, who is trying for a Congress ticket for Ferozepur Lok Sabha seat, announced in Jalalabad that he has decided to quit the SAD because of the “wrong policies” of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal.
In a letter addressed to Sukhbir, Ghubaya appealed to him to accept his resignation from all party posts. “I started my career as a sarpanch of Ghubaya village. In 1997, I was elected to the Vidhan Sabha from Jalalabad. I lost in 2002, but won with a record margin of 44,000 votes in 2007. However I vacated the Jalalabad seat for Sukhbir Badal in 2009. He won the byelection and later became deputy chief minister of Punjab. Vacating my seat for Sukhbir was the biggest political blunder of my life,” Ghubaya told The Indian Express.
Ghubaya, who was twice elected from Ferozepur parliamentary seat — first in 2009 and then in 2014 – said he wanted to complete his term as MP and “hence resigned from the SAD close to Lok Sabha” polls due later this year.
The Akali Dal later issued a press note here in Chandigarh through which Sukhbir expelled Ghubaya from the primary membership of the party for his “anti-party activities”.
Ghubaya’s relations with the Akali Dal had allegedly turned sour after a purported video clip appeared ahead of the the 2017 Assembly elections. Prior to that, in December 2016, the vigilance bureau under the previous SAD-BJP regime had raided private engineering college owned by his family over complaints of embezzlement. Ghubaya had reportedly even accused the Badal family of “humiliating” him.
As per sources in the SAD, Ghubaya was given the ticket to contest 2014 Lok Sabha polls only after party patron Parkash Singh Badal intervened. Sukhbir, sources said, was not keen on granting him the ticket. “Sukhbir wanted to finish my political career by ignoring me,” Ghubaya said.
Ghubaya had sought SAD ticket from Fazilka for his son Davinder Ghubaya. However, the SAD denied him, following which Davinder joined the Congress and won from Fazilka on Congress ticket. Ghubaya has often been seen attending the Congress functions but is yet to formally join the party. “Let us see as how things work out. I have asked for ticket from Congress party,” Ghubaya said.
“I have done lot of works like bringing passport office to Ferozepur and getting started the Fazilka to Chandigarh train, which was being delayed as Badals’ buses function on this route,” he added. Soon after announcing his resignation, Ghubaya left for Delhi. A source close to Ghubaya said he is likely to meet meet Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
Though local Congress leaders have no objection to Ghubaya joining the party, a majority of them are not in favour of the two-time MP being granted the party ticket to contest general elections from Ferozepur.
Punjab cabinet minister and a party ticket aspirant, Rana Sodhi said, “He is most welcome to join the party but he should not join just because he wants the party ticket. He should serve the party and let the high command decide the best candidate”.
Rana Sodhi’s son, Heera Sodhi,also a LS ticket aspirant from Ferozepur, said, “The party high command must check the winnability, acceptability and loyalty of a candidate rather than importing one from outside. He has not even joined the party. For seeking ticket, you need to be a party member at least. Let the high command take a call on the best candidate”.
Ghubaya comes from the Rai Sikh community, which makes for more than 3.5 lakh votes of the total eligible 13.5 lakh in Ferozepur. The Arora community makes for nearly 37 per cent of the vote share in this Lok Sabha constituency. “I haven’t won polls only because of the Rai Sikh votes. People from all segments vote for me. Everyone has the right to seek a ticket,” Ghubaya said.