The personal is political, and Aam Aadmi Party MLA Harmeet Singh Pathanmajra is learning it the hard way. In a controversy that the Punjab unit of the party, beset by many troubles, could have done without, Pathanmajra is fighting charges of bigamy, while trying to wish away a viral “intimate” video of him and his second wife.
A first-time MLA who crossed over to AAP from the Akali Dal, Pathanmajra claims he went into his second marriage with the consent of his first. However, the second wife has lodged a complaint with the Zirakpur Police Station accusing the MLA of hiding his first marriage. Pathanmajra denies this, as well as accuses the second wife of leaking a video call of theirs, recorded without his knowledge. Charges of assault, multiple marriages are now flying from both sides.
Pathanmajra has also accused the Akali Dal of being behind the whole controversy. Part of the Akali Dal when it was founded in 1920, the Pathanmajra family had joined the Congress post-Independence, but returned to the Akali Dal in 1994.
Pathanmajra, 46, won from Sanaur constituency in Patiala in the recent elections, defeating sitting Akali MLA Harinder Pal Singh Chandumajra by 49,112 votes.
Senior Akali leader Prem Singh Chandumajra, Harinder Pal’s father, lists Pathanmajra’s constant migration before landing in AAP. As he says, Pathanmajra joined the Akali Dal in 1994, went with Manpreet Singh Badal’s party in 2011, returned to the Akali Dal a year later, was expelled in 2016 for flouting disciplinary norms, joined the Congress in 2017 but left within days when denied a ticket from Sanaur, contested as an Independent and lost, then moved to AAP in September 2018, followed by Sukhpal Khaira’s Punjab Ekta Party in January 2019, and months later, the Congress, before finally joining AAP in December 2020.
Pathanmajra’s victory in the recent polls was impressive, defeating not just Harinder Pal Singh Chandumajra but also well-known leaders like the Congress’s Harinder Pal Singh ‘Harry’ Mann and the Punjab Lok Congress’s Bikramjeet Inder Singh Chahal.
Pathanmajra could not be contacted. In an interaction with Punjabi channel Pro Punjab Wednesday, he described how he met his second wife via Facebook and was in a relationship with her for more than 10 years. His first wife, he said, has not been in good health. “She (the complainant) eventually met my first wife and all my family members, and we decided to marry. The marriage happened with the consent of my first wife, my adult children, my mother and even my in-laws.” According to him, AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal also knew about his second marriage. “Kejriwalji stated that it was my personal life.”
Pathanmajra said his second wife lived in a rented flat in Zirakpur, a Chandigarh suburb, and that he had bought a flat for her to move into, given her a car, and bore all her expenses. In the video, he said: “A husband and wife share many intimate moments and I had no idea she was recording our video call. She has made it viral now and thus defamed me.”
He said the Akali Dal was trying to ruin him because he had defeated their leader in the Assembly elections, and urged police to look into all of her wife’s phones to see whom she was in touch with.
As per the complaint filed by the second wife, they got married on August 14, 2021, at a gurdwara. “He told me that he would divorce his first wife, but he hasn’t done it till date,” her complaint says. She also accuses Pathanmajra of not supporting her financially, of physically assaulting her, and of threatening her.
Earlier this year, Harinder Pal had filed a petition in the High Court against Pathanmajra accusing him of hiding information about his criminal record in his affidavit. Others noted that while in his affidavit, he mentioned Rs 2.4 crore of assets, he has himself boasted often of his family owning 250-300 acres in Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Chandumajra said that in light of “the present information”, they wanted action taken against Pathanmajra. On the AAP MLA’s claims of a political conspiracy, Chandumajra said: “This is baseless. We knew about the second wedding during the polls as well, but we never made it an issue.”
Pathanmajra seems to be hoping to brazen it out. His supporters are circulating videos saying he can’t ever be browbeaten, while the MLA has said he would go to court against his second wife for making their intimate video viral and “levelling false allegations”.
AAP though has indicated its displeasure. Chief AAP spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang said: “It is a personal matter of the MLA, however the party will be seeking an explanation from him about the incident. I feel a public representative should be disciplined and hold up moral values.”
Sources said the AAP leadership is particularly unhappy over the way the MLA sought to explain his second wife, and is now calling her names.