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Thursday, January 27, 2022

From could-be allies to bickering foes: SSM, AAP gun for each other

The allegations-counter allegations have come out days after the talks of a possible poll alliance between the AAP and SSM collapsed recently.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar , Sukhbir Siwach | Amritsar, Chandigarh |
January 15, 2022 2:24:36 am
Rakesh Tikait and Balbir Singh Rajewal. (Express photo: Uma Vishnu)

A war of words broke out between the Samyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) and the Aam Aadmi Party with latter accusing the newly floated political outfit of farmer unions of entering into an indirect alliance with the BJP to engineer defections and prevent it from forming the next government in Punjab. The SSM, while terming the allegation as baseless, said the AAP is trying ti mislead people as its position has weakened in poll-bound Punjab.

Addressing media in Amritsar, AAP MLA Meet Hayer said, “The SSM has contacted several AAP leaders asking them to defect. It is promising to bear all their election expenses”.

Pointing to party leader Jaspreet Singh, who was present with him at the press conference, Hayer claimed that the farmers’ outfit had approached him to contest the election as SSM candidate. Hayer alleged that the BJP, to prevent AAP from forming next government in Punjab, “is making many clandestine alliances and is funding its aligned leaders and parties to make them contest elections”.

“The BJP considers AAP convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arwind Kejriwal as the main opposition leader in the country. It is making all efforts to stop AAP in Punjab. Today those who are in indirect alliance with the BJP, are approaching our honest and old workers to leave AAP. Our workers are being offered money and tickets for fighting the assembly elections by the SSM,” Hayer alleged.

BKU (Rajewal) general secretary Onkar Singh Agaul, however, said: “How can we shake hands with the BJP when we fought against the saffron party and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue of three farm laws for over one year? The position of AAP has turned weak in Punjab, so its leaders are misguiding the people by levelling baseless allegations. We are in the battlefield to give new heights to the state by improving education and health system in the state. People are moving towards SSM, that’s why the mainstream parties are upset.”

The SSM is headed by BKU(Rajewal) chief Balbir Singh Rajewal.

The allegations-counter allegations have come out days after the talks of a possible poll alliance between the AAP and SSM collapsed recently.

The SSM also hit out at AAP’s Punjab co-in-charge, Raghav Chadha, over his allegations that Election Commission was “giving special treatment and concessions” for registration of a new political party.
Terming the allegation as “fabricated”, the SSM leaders claimed the AAP is upset because “it’s losing ground in Punjab day by day”.

The Election Commission Friday announced reducing the notice period for registration of new political parties in the five poll-going states from 30 days to 7 days, keeping in view difficulties caused by Covid-19-induced curbs. Noting that it had announced the schedule for assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur on January 8, the EC said, “It has been brought to the notice of the Commission that in view of prevailing restrictions on account of Covid-19, there was dislocation and delay in moving applications for registration, which in turn led to delay in registration as a political party.”

After considering all aspects, the Commission has given a relaxation and has reduced the notice period from 30 days to seven days for the parties who have published their public notice on or before January 8. “For all parties, including those parties which have already published the public notice in less than 7 days prior to January 8, objection, if any, can be submitted latest by 5.30 PM on January 21, or by the end of the originally provided 30 days period, whichever is earlier,” the statement said.

Earlier, while alleging “special treatment to register a new political party”, Chadha did not name the SSM but mentioned it as “morcha” several times and stated, “everybody knows in Punjab”.

However, the SSM leaders say the EC had reduced the 30-day objection period to 7 days earlier too. An SSM leader and former Professor of Chandigarh’s Panjab University, Manjeet Singh said: “This is the fourth time it has been done. It happened before 2019 general election, 2020 Bihar election and March 2021 state polls. I fail to understand why do they (AAP) level such allegations. They (AAP) are feeling totally threatened and are trying to create their own false defence by levelling fabricated allegations.”

Echoing similar sentiments, SSM spokesperson Ravneet Singh Brar told The Indian Express the morcha had moved the EC for registration before the enforcement of model code of conduct. “We are hopeful the morcha will get registered soon and a poll symbol will be allotted to it,” said Brar, who is SSM candidate from Mohali constituency.

Former AAP leader Rajeev Godara, who is now part of Yogendra Yadav’s Swaraj India, also alleged that “Chada has tried to mislead people of Punjab by giving wrong facts about rules for registration of political party”. “Chadha should explain why he levelled baseless allegations on the EC,” Godara added.

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