At least 25, and counting. That is the number of political leaders who have joined the Shiromani Akali Dal after it suffered one of the worst ever poll drubbings in the political history of the party in 2017 Punjab assembly election.
As the date for the Lok Sabha election in Punjab inches closer, the Akali Dal seems to be on a sort of spree to induct in its fold leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party, Congress and its own rebels who had quit the party.
The veteran trio of Ranjit Singh Brahampura, Rattan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan had last year revolted against SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, blaming him for 2017 poll debacle. The trio went on to form a separate political party SAD (Taksali). Since then, Sukhbir has become more active to strengthen his hold on the party.
After former Congress leader Jagmeet Singh Brar’s entry into the Akali Dal on Friday, Sukhbir is likely to welcome Tohra family back into the SAD on Saturday.
At least seven leaders who have joined SAD so far had contested 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections unsuccessfully as AAP candidates.
Among them, the latest to join Akali Dal were Advocate Ramesh Grover, the AAP nominee from Moga in 2017 who joined the party on Thursday and Gurpreet Singh Lapran, the AAP nominee from Payal in 2017 who joined SAD earlier this month.
The other leaders who quit AAP to join Akali Dal over period of time include Brigadier Raj Kumar (retd), who had contested unsuccessfully from Balachaur in 2017, H S Walia, the AAP nominee from Jalandhar cantonment in 2017, Amarjit Singh Thinda, the AAP nominee from Shahkot in 2017, Kamalpreet Singh Kaki, the AAP nominee from Qadian in 2017 and Hans Raj Rana, the AAP nominee from Adampur in 2017.
Not only AAP, leaders from the Congress party have also joined SAD. Joginder Singh Panjgrain who had unsuccessfully contested 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections on Congress ticket from Bhadaur and 2014 Lok Sabha election as Congress candidate from Faridkot constituency, joined SAD in January this year.
Sukhbir also succeeded in bringing back in party fold leaders like Gurtej Singh Ghuriana and Harish Rai Dhanda who had earlier quit the SAD.
Vipan Sood Kaka, who had contested as Lok Insaf Party candidate in 2017, also joined SAD.
Congress minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa’s brother Inderjit Singh Randhawa also joined SAD and so did Congress leader Ashwani Sekhri’s brother Inder Sekhri.
Sukhbir’s political secretary Charanjit Singh Brar said, “The way political leaders are joining the SAD from across the state after 2017 Vidhan Sabha elections, it is clear that people are disillusioned with the present government and recognise only Akali Dal as a party which can do good work”.