Facing infighting at a massive scale in the municipal corporation election in SAS Nagar, the Shiromoni Akali Dal (SAD) has opted for a moneybags-versus-moneybags strategy, pitching its trusted realtor MLA, NK Sharma, against its expelled leader Kulwant Singh, the realty giant who is helming the rebel group. So far, however, it doesn't seem to be working.
Trying to drive a wedge between old associates Sharma and Kulwant, senior Akali leader Balwant Singh Ramoowalia had issued written orders to Sharma to campaign against Kulwant, who was the party's Lok Sabha candidate last year from Fatehgarh Sahib but is now contesting the February 22 polls as an independent candidate.
Sharma clearly hasn't liked it: "I don't have to prove my credibility at least to Ramoowalia. In case I have time, I will go and campaign. My loyalties are for my party."
Another Kulwant confidant, Punjab State Women Commission chairperson Paramjit Kaur Landran, has been issued a letter to campaign against the rebels. She reacted angrily too: "Who is Ramoowalia to issue such a letter? I am more loyal than he claims to be. I know my responsibility, and I am only answerable to the top leaders."
In the letters, Ramoowalia has mentioned February 18 and 19 as the dates on which both Sharma and Landran have to campaign in SAS Nagar.
Even though SAD president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had pitched Kulwant as a Lok Sabha candidate, it must be recalled that he had accused Kulwant of a scam worth Rs 1,500 crore in the Congress regime. The political equation now has changed again.
When contacted, Ramoowalia said, "It is the order of the party high command, directing all leaders to unite against the rebels and campaign for the party. Following the directions, letters were issued to Sharma and Landran."