The Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali) Tuesday announced Bir Devinder Singh as its candidate from Anandpur Sahib Lok Sabha seat, despite having a difference in opinion over this constituency with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), with whom it has announced an alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The BSP says its will contest the seat at any cost.
Apart from the SAD (Taksali) and BSP, Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP), Lok Insaaf Party (LIP) and Punjab Manch have also announced to be part of the newly-formed Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA), whose formal launch is yet to take place.
Though they have claimed to have decided on 50 per cent of Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, announcement of Singh’s name as a candidate from Anandpur Sahib has taken aback BSP leaders. Randhir Singh Beniwal, in-charge of the BSP, Punjab and Chandigarh, said it is surprising. “Anandpur Sahib will remain with us only and we will contest it at any cost. This is the only constituency where the BSP is strongest in Punjab. We got over one lakh votes in 2014 Lok Sabha polls and over 1.5 lakh in 2009. Hence, we cannot ignore it. Though SAD’s sitting MP from Anandpur Sahib is Prem Singh Chandumajra, if the SAD (Taksali) contests, their votes will be divided and hence benefit the SAD only. Thus, is it not a wise decision for them to field a candidate,” he said.
Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, president of SAD (Taksali), said the BSP gets less than two per cent vote share in the entire state and hence they have no chance at Anandpur Sahib. “The SAD (Taksali) has a larger vote share because of the Takht of Sikhs at Anandpur Sahib. So, I have announced Bir Devinder as the candidate and moreover, our talks with the PDA are still on. We are not yet part of the alliance formally,” he said.
When asked that the mahagathbandhan will be under threat much before the Lok Sabha polls, Brahmpura said, “We are the ones who enrolled all the parties under one platform to form an alliance. We have no second thought about Anandpur Sahib.”
Brahmpura, however, seemed annoyed with PEP president Sukhpal Singh Khaira’s statement over the recent Pulwama attack. “I feel that being a public figure, he (Khaira) should not have given his personal views. At this point, I stand by my forces and I feel that the whole country should be united, rather than fighting among themselves,” said Brahmpura.
Earlier, LIP president Simrajeet Bains had also condemned the statement of Khaira. Brahmpura also welcomed the arrest of Inspector General (IG) Paramraj Umranangal in Behbal Kalan firing case.
“The persons who gave orders of the firing need to be punished too. They had government in the state and orders came from them (Badals). I feel that Badals will be at much greater loss this election than the Congress,” he said.