Another day, another setback for Akali Dal as BJP inducts more leaders of former ally

On Thursday, the BJP had inducted Manjinder Singh Sirsa, another senior SAD leader and former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee into the party.

The SAD suffered another jolt for the second consecutive day Friday with its senior leader from Jalandhar, Sarabjit Singh Makkar, joining the BJP in New Delhi.

Makkar, who was SAD general secretary, joined the saffron party in the presence of Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat who is also the BJP in charge of Punjab elections. Former Punjab and Maharashtra DGP S S Virk too joined the BJP at the same function.

On Thursday, the BJP had inducted Manjinder Singh Sirsa, another senior SAD leader and former president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee into the party.

Makkar had been miffed with party president Sukhbir Singh Badal after the latter announced the name of Jagmeet Singh Brar as the candidate from Jalandhar Cantonment Assembly seat for the 2022 polls. Makkar had contested unsuccessfully from the same constituency and was looking forward to getting the ticket again from Jalandhar Cantonment for the next elections.

Makkar has remained the chairman of Improvement Trust Jalandhar (2000-2002); Member of Legislative Assembly, Adampur District, Jalandhar (2007-2012); election contestant 2012 (SAD); chairman of Planning Board, Kapurthala; halka incharge, Kapurthala (2012-2017); election contestant; Jalandhar Cantt (SAD) 2017; Halka Incharge Jalandhar Cantt (2017-2021); former chairman of PEDA and former member of Railway Board.

Former DGP Virk is an IPS officer of 1970 batch and has served as the DGP of Punjab as well as Maharashtra. He was arrested by the Punjab Police in 2007 in a case relating to disproportionate assets. Virk had claimed that he had been implicated in the case by the then Chief Director Vigilance Sumedh Singh Saini. Virk was later absolved of the charges.

An officer with considerable experience in anti-terrorism operations in Punjab, Virk had been injured during an anti-terrorist action, Operation Black Thunder, in Amritsar in 1988 while serving as DIG in CRPF. He had been appointed as Punjab DGP in 2005.

Welcoming the new entrants, Shekhawat said, “Senior leaders of stature of S S Virk, Sarabjit Singh Makkar, former MLA and a close confidant of Sukhbir Singh Badal, Manvinder Singh Ranauta, Avtar Singh Zira have joined the national party today as they believed in the statesmanship of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP’s commitment for a better country with equitable opportunities for every citizen.”

He added that these leaders will bring along a huge experience with them and be an asset to the party.
While welcoming the senior SAD leaders, BJP state general secretary Jeevan Gupta said the pary will form the next government in the state. “Senior leaders in SAD and Congress are feeling stifled and in the coming few days the BJP will see many joining it. Stalwart leader like Manjinder Singh Sirsa have joined the BJP as he as an astute politician understands that the policies of the party will usher in a just and progressive India,” he said.

Among those who joined the BJP on Friday were Avtar Singh Zira who has been two- time chairman of Cooperative Bank. His father was a five-time MLA and an ex-minister in Punjab from SAD. More than a dozen more individuals from diverse fields in Punjab also joined the BJP on the occasion.

The BJP leaders said that many more Congress and SAD leaders will join the party in the days to come. Sources say there is a concentrated drive underway by BJP senior leadership to attract leaders who are disenchanted within their parties. These individuals have been promised tickets in the 2022 Assembly elections.

“We have to fight elections from 117 seats. There are many seats where our presence is marginal and where we need someone of a stature to fight elections. Not only do such Sikh faces give the party the much-needed legitimacy required in the aftermath of the three farm laws being repealed but they are also good candidates for the Assembly elections,” said a state BJP leader who did not want to be named.

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