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This poll season, turncoats are having a field day in Punjab

April 24, 2019 06:03 AM


This poll season, turncoats are having a field day in Punjab

It’s election time and turncoats are having a field day in Punjab. For some chronic turncoats, it is yet another switch to stay politically relevant. The list includes dissidents who believe that run up to elections is the best time to raise the banner of revolt and also the leaders who are seeking political rehabilitation.

How important is the list can be gauged from the fact that topping the list are four of total 13 sitting MPs – Sher Singh Ghubaya (Ferozepur), Ranjit Singh Brahmpura (Khadoor Sahib), Dharamvira Gandhi (Patiala) and Harinder Singh Khalsa (Fatehgarh Sahib).

Ghubaya has switched to the Congress from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and has been awarded with party ticket. Brahmpura has floated his own SAD (Taksali) after parting ways with the Akali Dal but is not contesting himself. Gandhi is re-contesting as the joint candidate of the Punjab Democratic Alliance (PDA) after he and his former party colleague Khalsa quit Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Khalsa has joined BJP but has not been given candidature.

“In case of the sitting MPs, they wait till the fag end of their five-year tenure to call it quits. In case of AAP’s two MPs, Gandhi and Khalsa, the party too kept them suspended and did not expel them for over three years. Ghubaya’s son had joined the Congress in 2017 but still SAD did not take action against him. They all knew that they will not be re-nominated and made a move. Brahmpura, along with former MP Rattan Singh Ajnala, launched his own party after falling apart with SAD leadership,” observed a senior AAP leader.

The MPs are followed by MLAs on the list. Former leader of opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira is contesting from Bathinda and Baldev Singh from Faridkot. Both are now contesting as Punjab Ekta Party candidates as part of PDA, after quitting AAP.

However, where most parties consider inducting onetime rivals as a ‘force multiplier’, it does lead to bad blood in the local cadre. In case of individuals who have been part of a ruling party, there are allegations of political vendetta against opponent cadres that creates resistance at local level. “Ghubaya is facing a similar problem and many local leaders, three of whom were expecting a party ticket, have openly revolted against him,” confided a Congress leader.

AAP candidate from Bathinda in the last 2014 election, Jasraj Singh Jassi, is now taking on his former colleague Bhagwant Mann as PDA nominee in Sangrur, while AAP’s Hoshiaprur candidate Yamini Gomar was a probable for the Congress ticket after she switched parties two years back.

Ironically, some leaders lost out in the ticket race even after switching parties. Twotime MP Jagmeet Singh Brar, who joined SAD in the presence of Badals, has not been fielded even though the party took inordinately long to announce SAD president Sukhbir Badal’s candidature from Ferozepur. Besides, former Akali minister Harmail Singh Tohra, who returned to SAD from AAP, also did not get any ticket.

The trend of switching parties just before elections seemed to have picked up during the last assembly elections in 2017. In search of greener pastures, leaders like Khaira (previously with the Congress), Manpreet Singh Badal (previously heading People’s Party of Punjab), Aman Arora (previously with the Congress), Devinder Singh Ghubaya (earlier with SAD), Pargat Singh (previously with SAD) changed parties and made it to the Punjab assembly. There were also those who were not as lucky, like Lakhbir Singh Rai (AAP), who lost from Fatehgarh Sahib, and Kuldeep Kaur Tohra (AAP), who was left disappointed in Samana.


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