In the political wilderness for a year, former MP Jagmeet Singh Brar, who was expelled from the Congress and later went on to join the Trinamool Congress, Thursday said he will join the Shiromani Akali Dal on April 19 at Muktsar in Punjab.
“In my political and personal capacity, I have been driven by virtues and principles of Guru Nanak. Hence, I want to inform all well wishers who have stood by me that I will be joining the Shiromani Akali Dal tomorrow at Shri Muktsar Sahib,” Brar tweeted on Thursday.
“While I live and breathe politics for and by the people, the Akali Dal gives me an opportunity to further my objectives of Sikhism and Punjab. At every step, I have raised issues for the people and will continue to do so,” he said.
Brar, who had been the permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) for 10 years, was expelled from the party in 2016. By then he had been with the Congress for close to 35 years. After the Congress party’s defeat in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Brar had suggested that then Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the then vice-president Rahul Gandhi go on a sabbatical to introspect on the reasons for the party’s worst performance in the elections.
He had later joined the Trinamool Congress and had remained president of party’s state unit. He quit the TMC last year and since then had been in political wilderness.
His decision to join the Akali Dal has come as surprise for many given the bitter animosity he shares with SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, whom he had defeated once in the Lok Sabha polls, with both mincing no words to target each other in the past.
Brar had often in the past blamed SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal for death of his father Gurmeet Singh Brar in 1977.
Cabinet minister and Congress legislator from Dera Baba Nanak Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said that while contesting the Lok Sabha polls against Sukhbir – he defeated the former deputy chief minister from Faridkot in 1999 – Brar used to “blame Sukhbir’s father for the death of his father”.
As per Randhawa, Brar used to say in poll campaign, “Mere peo da kaatil Parkash Singh Badal hai. Mere peo de kaatil de munde nu harao (My father’s murderer is Parkash Singh Badal. Defeat the son of my father’s murderer).”
A senior Akali leader, requesting anonymity, said, “Brar’s father Gurmeet Singh Brar was the Akali Dal ticket aspirant from Faridkot after the Lok Sabha seat fell vacant following Parkash Singh Badal becoming chief minister after winning the 1977 Assembly polls, but party fielded Balwant Singh Ramoowalia”.
Gurmeet Brar had lost the 1977 Assembly elections from Muktsar, the leader said, adding that when SAD fielded Ramoowalia, Gurmeet Brar “took it to heart” and died of “heart attack”.
Ramoowalia, when contacted on Thursday, said, “Yes Gurmeet Brar wanted to contest from Faridkot. “It is believed that he took it very badly that he was not given ticket”.
Ramooowalia further said that it is “correct that during his election campaign Jagmeet Brar used to say that Parkash Singh Badal is responsible” for the death of his father.
Brar, however, begs to differ. “Eh maari moti gal hai. Main eh gal kite nahi kahi (This is small thing. I never said it anywhere). My father was senior to Badal Sahib. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1977 because he could not be accommodated. Is vich koyee shak nahi (There is no doubt in this),” Brar told The Indian Express, parrying further queries, including Sukhbir’s jibes at him, saying it was natural to target each other after they parted ways.
Brar said he would respond to all queries on Friday after joining SAD in the noon.
In 2016, Sukhbir while responding to media query during a press conference where he was asked if he would welcome Brar in party fold if he was out of Congress, had called him a”misguided missile” who “no one welcomed”.
In his statement on desecration of Quran, Brar had told media that as per his guess, “Sukhbir Badal and Parkash Singh Badal were the masterminds of sacrilege”.
Brar had also made a speech during Bargari morcha last year, showering praise on the organisers Dhian Singh Mand and Baljit Singh Daduwal. Brar had termed the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib as “biggest attack on Sikh community in 21st century”.
During the time he spent in the Congress, Brar contested elections 10 times, mostly against Parkash Badal and Sukhbir, but won only twice – in 1991 and 1999. In Punjab politics, his 1999 victory is recorded as a big achievement. He had defeated Sukhbir when Parkash Badal was the CM of Punjab.
After he was expelled from the Congress in 2015, he joined the All India Trinamool Congress and was soon made the party’s state president. In 2017 Assembly elections, his party fielded several candidates but none could win. Hooping to form an alliance, Brar had even shared stage with AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal during his Punjab visit. In 2017, however, he quit the AITC and since then was often seen in self driven public road shows and programmes.
Brar had unsuccessfully contested his first election against Parkash Badal in 1980 from Lambi assembly seat. The results were repeated in 1985. He then tried to enter Lok Sabha and contested from Ferozepur but lost to SAD (Amritsar) candidate Dhyan Singh Mand. He tasted his first victory in 1991 from Faridkot. In 1996, five years later, Sukhbir defeated him from the same seat. In 1998, he contested the bypoll to the Faridkot Lok Sabha seat, after Sukhbir vacated it, but lost. In 1999, he again contested against Sukhbir, and won with a margin of about 5100 votes. In 2004 and 2009, he contested from Ferozepur but lost to SAD’s Zora Singh Mann and Sher Singh Ghubaya, respectively.
Sources close to him said that he urged the Congress to take him back in the partyfold but got no response.
State Congress chief Sunil Jakhar, meanwhile, said, “As he is no longer part of Congress, hence it hardly matters to us as to which party he is joining. It is, however, surprising that he is joining the Akali Dal, a party that he kept condemning all his life”.
Aam Aadmi Party state president Bhagwant Mann said that Jagmeet Brar needs to continuously “update himself” about the party he is in. “He has tried so many parties. A daily status update is needed to know about his current party,” he added.