IN A surprise move, former Ajnala MLA Amarpal Singh Bony — who was expelled from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in December last year and is now with the SAD (Taksali) — has been urging his supporters to vote for Congress’ Amritsar candidate Gurjeet Singh Aujla.
Even more surprising is his motive behind this — he has been making this appeal to pave the way for him and his father, former MP Rattan Singh Ajnala, to return to the SAD.
Speaking to The Indian Express over phone, Amarpal said, “It will not be right to say that we have been asking to vote for Congress. The reality is that Bikram Singh Majithia has given feedback to Sukhbir Singh Badal that they (SAD-BJP) will be winning Ajnala Assembly constituency by 15,000-20,000 votes. But our mediator (to bring us back into SAD(B)) ‘Kairon Sahib’ has given feedback that the alliance is trailing behind by 15,000-20,000 votes.”
“It has created a dispute in the party and finally it was decided that the one whose prediction comes true will take the final call on our entry to SAD,” he claimed.
Amarpal and his father Rattan were expelled from SAD last year for demanding the resignation of SAD chief Sukhbir Badal over the sacrilege issue.
Later, both joined the rebel party SAD(T) as founding members. Rattan Ajnala still holds the senior vice-president post in the party.
The Indian Express was the first to report that former minister and son-in-law of Prakash Singh Badal, Adesh Partap Singh Karion, had been lobbying to bring the father-son back into the SAD fold. However, former minister Bikram Singh Majithia, brother of Bathinda candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal, has been staunchly opposing their re-entry as he and his sister were regularly targeted by Amarpal and Rattan since after their exit from SAD.
Hence, Amarpal has now been asking his workers to vote for Aujla to “prove his electoral value” to SAD.
Addressing workers at a meeting held at the SAD(T) party office in Ajnala earlier this week, Amarpal said, “Don’t think about the fact that Aujla (Congress candidate) has not come to ask for your vote, or his mother or brother haven’t come to seek votes. You have to vote for me. It will be my responsibility to get your work done (after Aujla wins).”
Speaking at the same meeting, former sarpanch Amarbir Singh said, “I know your conscience will not allow you to press the ‘Panja’ (Congress symbol). But for once, just close your eyes and click on ‘Panja’.”
“They have accused the (Ajnala) family of stabbing them in the back, but the fact is that they have stabbed the family in the back. It is not a big deal if someone says you are not fit for the president post. It is nothing to feel hurt about,” said Amarbir, referring to the father-son’s demand for Sukhbir’s resignation before their expulsion.
He further said, “If we manage to defeat them (BJP candidate) with a margin of 40 plus then they (SAD) will welcome the Ajnala family back in the party with due respect. Yes, people are going to accuse us of supporting the Congress. You tell people that we are not voting for Congress but we have been defeating those who say that he (Amarbir) is not a capable leader. It is his humbleness that they started reconciliation talks (with SAD) after we (workers) pushed him to do so even after both sides had said many things about each other.”
Sources said Union Minister and BJP candidate Hardeep Puri is dependent on SAD(B) to get votes from Ajnala.
Amarpal had won the Ajnala seat with a margin of 1,235 votes in the 2012 Assembly elections. Ajnala constituency voted for Congress candidate Captain Amarinder Singh in 2014, who had defeated BJP candidate Arun Jaitley by only 356 votes.
Contested on a SAD ticket in 2017 again, Amarpal was defeated by around 19,000 votes.