Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal announced Saturday that former deputy speaker of Lok Sabha Charanjit Singh Atwal would be its candidate from Jalandhar (SC) seat. Atwal, a Dalit face, was the former deputy speaker of Lok Sabha during 2004-2009. He was a two-time MP from Phillaur constituency. He has also remained speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly twice.
Earlier, the Akali Dal had fielded Jagir Kaur from Khadoor Sahib seat. Badal hit out at Taksali leaders, alleging that Ranjit Singh Brahmpura would forfeit his security deposit from his own constituency if he dared to enter into the poll fray from Khadoor Sahib.
He dared all the three expelled Akali leaders Brahmpura, Rattan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan to test their "political clout" by contesting the Lok Sabha polls. "The so-called Taksali leaders are trying to befool people of Punjab by mouthing lies about Panthic issues as well as themselves," he alleged.
"All desperate and rejected leaders from various political outfits have gathered and declared themselves as Taksalis, while none of them have any Taksali background. By which stretch of imagination can you call Birdevinder Singh or General JJ Singh as Taksali," Badal asked. The SAD chief exuded confidence that the SAD-BJP would be wining all the 13 seats in Punjab, while the Congress would finish at zero.
Replying to a question on Kartarpur Sahib corridor, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had fulfilled a long-standing demand of the Sikh community with the decision of establishing the passage. "I hope Pakistan would respect the sentiments of the Sikh Qaum," Badal said, adding that the Indian government had sought permission for 5,000 pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Sahib Kartarpur daily. However, Pakistan was putting administrative hurdles in a hassle-free access to Kartarpur Sahib," Badal said.
Replying to a query on the SAD-BJP's performance in the Punjab Assembly polls in 2017, the SAD president said they did not perform badly. "The Congress got 38 per cent vote share in Punjab, we got 31 per cent and the AAP finished at just 21 per cent, lagging far behind us as much as by 7 per cent vote share, which means around 2.50 lakh more votes were polled to the SAD-BJP than the AAP. We also lost 15-20 seats just with the margin of 1,500 votes," he said.