Former Chief of Army Staff Gen (retd) JJ Singh Friday said that there seemed to be a mischievous intent behind Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP) president Sukhpal Khaira’s demand for his removal as the and SAD (Taksali) candidate from Khadoor Sahib and that he (khaira) seemed to be getting money from abroad in the name of Paramjit Kaur Khalra.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Gen Singh said that repeated attempts were being made by Khaira to ensure that he stood down in favour of Khalra, who is the candidate of Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA). Khaira, who was in Khadoor Sahib constituency, addressed several public meetings where he once again made impassioned demand that General Singh should step down in favour of Khalra.
The SAD (Taksali) had walked out of the PDA following lack of consensus over seat distribution among the allies.
“Khaira is not a good person. He must be getting money from abroad in the name of Bibi Khalra that is why he is making such statements. He has got some mischievous intent. But nothing will happen, I can assure you. I have the solid support of the people. Khalra’s name was announced after my name was announced as the candidate from Khadoor Sahib,” he said. Click here for more election news
Responding to Gen Singh’s statement, Khaira said he was open to any investigation of any kind. “All kinds of allegations are being made. Some people are also saying that I have taken money to help Harsimrat Badal in Bathinda. These are all a bundle of lies. Gen Singh will not get more than 15-20,000 votes and these too will eventually help the Akali candidate, Jagir Kaur,” he said.
The former Army Chief said that a lot of propaganda was being spread about him by Khaira as well as SAD president Sukhbir Badal. “Sukhbir and he have been saying the General will go away after two months. Well it is already two months and I am still here. They are all fibbing to fool people,” he said.
He said that that his strong point was that the entire support base of Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, who is the sitting MP from the constituency, is with him. “70 to 80 per cent of the ex-servicemen of the constituency are with me. They are very proud of me. All government servants are also aligned with me. I have an advantage here. Congress has no candidate here as yet and even AAP supporters are aligning with me,” he claimed.
Responding to the criticism by veterans’ community about him fighting elections repeatedly, Gen Singh said that people who do not even venture out of their houses were taking pot shots at him while he was stepping out to do public service.
“They are just jealous people. What is ailing them? Have I stepped on their toes? When I was made the Governor did they ever congratulate me? They are feeling envious of me. I am doing social service. These very same people say that they need clean politics. Hun enna nu takleef kee ho rahi hai (What is troubling them now),” he asked.
Hitting out at his detractors among the veterans, Gen Singh said that some of them are sycophants of other individuals. “They never appreciated when I brought glories for them. First, they said I should not have fought the Assembly election. Now that I am fighting the parliamentary election, I do not know what is wrong with them. Why don’t you step out of your comfort zone? It is not easy. You have to work hard. On one hand, you want to change the political landscape. But it will not happen sitting at home,” he said.
He said that there was no big deal in losing elections. “Field Marshal Carriapa fought elections from Bombay (now Mumbai) and lost. Winston Churchill lost elections after winning World War-II. Winning or losing is not important. Manmohan Singh lost the election, Indira Gandhi lost election after winning the 1971 war,” he said.
Commenting on the dissent within his own party regarding his candidature, Gen Singh said that Sewa Singh Sekhwan had made a statement in this regard. “Why shouldn’t there be a different viewpoint? He is the only one, however, to have said so. He has also been told that do not do anything that will weaken us. I am on a strong position I have no hesitation in saying,” he said.
Reacting to the government move to postpone the Kartarpur talks because of the inclusion of Khalistani sympathisers in a committee in Pakistan, the former Army Chief said that he agreed with the Centre, “Pakistan is trying to use adverse elements who are inimical to India. If they have good intentions they should not do this and they should not promote such individuals,” he said.