THE LOCAL unit of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal is at war with itself again. This time on the issue of who should be fielded for the Assembly election. The matter came to the fore during the meeting of the SAD councillors with Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal a few days ago, Chandigarh Newsline has learnt.
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With SAD divided into camps for and against Mayor Kulwant Singh in Mohali, the anti-Kulwant faction, including 17 SAD councillors and six BJP councillors, told Badal that they would not support a candidate from the Kulwant Singh group. The councillors have proposed the names of five candidates to Badal at the meeting, demanding that the final choice should be only from this shortlist. Of the five, four are councillors, while the fifth is the husband of a councillor. They are Baljeet Singh Kumbra, Paramjeet Singh Kahlon, Kuldeep Kaur Kang, Parminder Singh Sohana and Sukhdev Singh Patwari.
A SAD councillor, who was present at the meeting, told Chandigarh Newsline that they have requested Badal to get a survey done about all these five councillors and if he felt that none of them could win the election, then he was free to choose another candidate.
“We also told our leader that we will not support any candidate from Kulwant Singh group as they had back-stabbed the party during the municipal corporation election and joined hands with our number one enemy party Congress. We would rather support an outsider than support Kulwant’s man,” added the councillor.
Amid the fighting, Badal’s Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Charanjeet Singh Brar met local leaders to pursue his own case for the candidature. Brar, considered very close to Badal, could be the final choice of the party, said one local SAD leader.
“Yes, he could be the candidate. He met all the councillors and he is making the preparations. We would rather support him than support any candidate from the Kulwant-led faction,” said Sukhdev Singh Patwari.
Kulwant Singh, on the other hand, has refused to contest the elections. He has even apprised the top leadership of his decision. A leader close to Kulwant said he was asked by the Deputy CM if he wanted to contest the elections. But Kulwant Singh declined, adding he would back the party candidate, instead.
Though Kulwant has not proposed anyone’s name yet, party sources said his faction may propose the name of Punjab Women Commission Chairperson Bibi Paramjeet Kaur Landran.
Kulwant Singh was not available for comment though. Earlier, there were reports that Punjab Education Minister Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema could be the candidate from Mohali. But a senior SAD leader, who is also a councillor, said Cheema, the Ropar MLA, had already told the party high command that he did not want to contest from Mohali.