Punjabi singer-politician Hans Raj Hans, 52, has left the Congress, too. He was welcomed into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by its president Amit Shah in New Delhi on Saturday. Hans, who had quit the BJP’s partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) with a lot of verbal acrimony, and joined the Congress in February, termed this too a “homecoming”. Pitching himself as a Dalit leader from the Valmiki community, he is being seen as a probable candidate from Jalandhar West for the Punjab assembly polls due early next year.
“I am impressed with the policies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and expressed my desire to serve the party with Amit Shah,” he said, committing to “selfless service”. “Unfortunately, the Congress doesn’t like straightforward people,” he told HT. In the Congress, state unit chief Captain Amarinder Singh had recommended his name for a Rajya Sabha seat soon after he joined, but former minister Shamsher Singh Dullo, also a Dalit, was chosen instead at the last moment by the party high command. Hans had later raised slogans over “discrimination” with Dalits at a party rally in Amarinder’s presence, but was until recently seen by the former CM’s side.
- 2014 attempt: A Padma Shri awardee, Sufi singer Hans, who was referred to as ‘Raj Gayak’ (State Singer) by the Akali top leadership and even by the Congress before and after that, made an unsuccessful attempt to join the BJP in 2014. He then went into full-time spiritualism and joined the Radha Soami dera at Beas to teach music at the sect’s academy.
- Religious side: He remained head of the Sufi shrine Dera Baba Lal Badshah at Nakodar, but had to quit in 2015 after controversies over his religious inclinations. His love for people in Pakistan and respect for Islam, amid rumours of conversion, earned him negativity from the Hindu right wing.
- Akali stint: In 2009, Hans had got the SAD ticket for the Lok Sabha from Jalandhar, but lost to Congress candidate Mohinder Singh Kaypee. He tried for the SAD ticket in 2014 again but was denied in favour of Pawan Kumar Tinu. He did not campaign in Jalandhar, but sang paeans to the deputy CM Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Bathinda in her campaign.
- Cong, AAP and now: By December 2014, he quit the SAD, declaring that “politics is a dirty game and I was not meant for it”. On way to the Congress, he reportedly tried to join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but a fellow artist in that party scuttled that. He went to the Congress in February and was later made vice-president of the state unit.
Punjab BJP chief and Union minister Vijay Sampla — who is also a Dalit from the Doaba region where the community has an assertive majority presence — said, “Hans was in touch with the party for the past many days and had met me in Chandigarh. The party will benefit by taking his services.”
Sources said Hans, whose ticket from the Congress was not assured owing to opposition to turncoats, is keen on contesting from Jalandhar West, represented by BJP minister Bhagat Chunni Lal, who has crossed the age of 75, making him ineligible to contest as per BJP norms now. Also, Hans’ house in Jalandhar falls in this constituency.
But there are murmurs within the BJP over his past record. Sources said his induction was facilitated by a BJP leader from Haryana, through national general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya, who was present at the time of his joining. “Hans is a liability. He has caused embarrassment to every party that he has joined,” a senior BJP leader, who wished not to be named, told HT.