Sports department director Olympian Pargat Singh (46) will tender his resignation from the post on Monday to contest the assembly election as an SAD candidate from Jalandhar Cantonment.
Sources said that SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal held a meeting with Pargat, who was earlier reluctant to enter the poll arena, at Chandigarh on Sunday afternoon to deliberate on the issue of fielding the latter from Jalandhar Cantt as an Akali candidate.
Pargat, an Arjuna awardee, finally agreed to the offer and decided to resign from the government job on Monday.
Sukhbir played a pivotal role in making the former Indian hockey team captain accept the “challenge”. Earlier, Sukhbir and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had held a meeting with Pargat, a native of Mithapur village in Jalandhar Cantonment segment, last week. The veteran player was, however, reluctant to enter politics then.
Pargat’s name was doing the rounds in SAD circles following the refusal of Punjab Markfed chairman and Kapurthala SAD unit president Jarnail Singh Wahid to contest from Jalandhar Cantt.
Pargat had captained the Indian hockey team in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
Though Jalandhar Improvement Trust chairman Baljeet Singh Neelamahal, district planning committee chairman Charanjeet Singh Channi and SGPC member Paramjit Singh Raipur were aspiring for the party ticket, Sukhbir zeroed in on Pargat because of his clean image, calibre in sports and managerial skills.
Pargat came closer to Sukhbir during the successful conduct of the second edition of kabaddi world cup recently.
Pargat accomplished the task of distributing gymnasium kits among rural and urban youth clubs and popularising sports in Punjab in an effort to curb drug addiction among youth.
The Jalandhar Cantt constituency, with an estimated 1.59 lakh voters, had been transformed into an “urban” seat following delimitation with only 29,000 Jat Sikhs registered as voters.
The SAD was earlier planning to interchange Jalandhar Cantt seat with the BJP, which reportedly declined the offer.
The seat, traditionally a Congress bastion, was won by Jagbir Brar of the SAD, who defeated former Congress minister Gurkanwal Kaur by a margin of 17,000 votes in the 2007 elections. Later, Brar quit as MLA to join his cousin Manpreet Badal to form the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP). Brar later resigned from the PPP and is now contesting the seat on Congress ticket.