For a party that swears by its alliance with the BJP in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the saffron party candidate from Kalanwali Assembly seat in Haryana’s Sirsa district forfeits his deposit in the October 21 polls in the neighbouring state.
The SAD, after severing ties with the BJP in Haryana, is contesting the polls in alliance with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). It has nominated BJP turncoat Rajinder Singh Desujodha from Kalanwali where the saffron party has fielded Balkaur Singh, the sitting MLA and the lone Akali Dal legislator in Haryana who switched sides last month.
Campaigning for Rajinder Singh Saturday, Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal came down heavily on Balkaur Singh saying he had “betrayed his mother party” and “people would not forgive him” for this.
“Ensure Desujodha’s victory. At the same time, make sure that BJP candidate’s security deposit is forfeited. Don’t even let him enter your villages. He has cheated the panth. He should never win,” Sukhbir said, adding “Already there are reports that he has been denied admission in many villages”.
Balkaur Singh had won from Kalanwali on SAD ticket in 2014 Haryana Vidhan Sabha polls, defeating Rajinder Singh, who then was the BJP nominee. “Sadda banda khraab nikaleya, oh nahi jitna chahida (Our man [Balkaur Singh] turned out to be bad. He should not win at any cost),” Sukhbir said.
This was in stark contrast to his reply on the future of SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab just two days ago.
Asked if Akali Dal would go alone in Punjab in 2022 Vidhan Sabha polls, Sukhbir, said, “Look, you will get old and I will also get old. But the SAD-BJP alliance will remain in Punjab. We are not going to go anywhere. We will fight polls as alliance partners”.
The SAD had contested the 2014 Haryana elections in alliance with the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The alliance ended in 2017 over the issue of the Sutlej-Yamuna link canal. For the October 21 polls in Haryana, the SAD has again joined hands with the INLD, fielding three candidates – from Kalanwali, Ratia and Guhla Cheeka seats.
While campaigning in Haryana, Sukbhir reminds the electorate of the bond that his father Parkash Singh Badal shared with the late Chaudhary Devi Lal, a former deputy prime minister and two-term Haryana chief minister who also formed the INLD. “SAD and INLD are the parties of villagers and farmers. Devi Lalji and Badal Sahib had always thought about poor and farmer. In Haryana, old age pension was launched during Devi Lal’s tenure while in Punjab, atta dal scheme and free power for agri sector was started by Badal Sahib,” he said.
He said Punjab had witnessed phenomenal development under leadership of Parkash Singh Badal with the state being made power surplus, power being supplied free of cost for tubewell connections besides rise in infrastructure projects with five airports being built in the state. “We want to bring the same level of development to Haryana,” he said.
He said the SAD would turn 100 next year. “We are the oldest party in the country and we represent the panth,” he said, adding the Akali Dal had always fought for the rights of Punjabis, be it problems being faced by the Sikh community in France over ban on turbans for official photographs or by the residents of Punjabi Lane in Shillong. The SAD has always stood up to ensure Sikhs were not discriminated in any manner, the former Punjab deputy CM said.
He said the SAD also had a record of fighting to protect the rights of minorities across the country besides standing up against excesses like the Emergency invoked by former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Coming back to Kalanwali, he said, “Kallanwali and Punjab are one. After two-and-a-half years, government of SAD-BJP will be formed in Punjab. You all can come for any work. I had given jobs to over 500 boys of Kalanwali in Punjab during our rule,” he said.
Silent on attack on Punjab police team
On a day long tour of the constituency, Sukhbir visited more than 10 villages in Kalanwali, including at Desu Malkana, adjacent to village Desujodha where a team of Punjab Police was brutally thrashed by villagers this week when they had gone to arrest a drug peddler. However, Sukhbir did not talk of the assault in his speeches, something that he remained vocal about back home in Punjab where he claimed that peddlers have political patronage of Congress due to which they are attacking policemen.