Both Congress and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) heaved a sigh of relief after Sukhwinder Singh Danny, general secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC), and Sheetal Singh, a three-time former MLA of the SAD from Dharamkot (reserved), on Saturday, withdrew their nomination papers filed as independents for the parliamentary seat from here.
After withdrawals of nominations, a total of 19 candidates have been left in the election fray from the constituency, according to a press release issued from the office of the district retuning officer Mohammad Tayyab. Besides Danny and Sheetal, two others Dharam Singh and Om Parkash withdrew their nominations.
Danny withdrew his nomination papers as an independent candidate from the constituency ending the four-day-old political drama over his nomination when the Congress candidate Joginder Singh was already in the election fray as the Congress candidate.
Danny claimed to have withdrawn his nomination after receiving a message from Rahul Gandhi’s office. “I withdrew my nomination from Faridkot Lok Sabha constituency after I got a message to withdraw my nomination papers from Rahul Gandhiji’s office and I have followed the instructions,” said Danny.
“When I had filed my nomination, I had brought the issue to the notice of PPCC president and had asked him to clarify his stand over the issue of drugs. But his words that it was a minor issue are very painful for me as he had asked me to ignore it,” Danny alleged, referring to an old case against the Congress candidate in which he had been acquitted.
But he reiterated that he has always been a loyal party worker and would always be so. ”I have not turned a rebel and would continue working for the party,” Danny claimed.
Ironically, Danny had filed two sets of nomination papers on April 9, the last day of filing nominations, one as an INC candidate and another as an independent. But he was in the fray as an independent after his nomination as INC candidate stood cancelled during scrutiny.
The party had already fielded Joginder Singh, but Danny had claimed that he was filing his nomination on the instruction of the party high command sensing some trouble with the nomination papers of the Congress candidate, which were later on found to be correct.
Danny had then said that he would withdraw if party asked him to do so.
SHEETAL SINGH’S GRUDGE
Sheetal Singh, son-in-law of former agriculture minister Gurdev Singh Badal, had filed his nomination on Monday as an independent, alleging that the SAD had been continuously ignoring his 30-year- long loyal association with the party as an honest worker.
While filing his nomination, he had also alleged that SAD leader Gurdev Singh Badal had also been downsized by the party and he should have taken some stand in this regard. But, as he had failed to stand up, he (Sheetal) had decided to contest as an independent from Faridkot.
Sheetal Singh, despite repeated calls on his cell phone, could not be contacted, but Parmjeet Kaur, daughter-in-law of Gurdev Singh Badal claimed that her father-in-law had convinced him to withdraw his nomination.
“Gurdev Singh Badal, who has been in the SAD for about 50 years did not want his son-in-law to contest against the party candidate. So, Sheetal Singh has withdrawn from the fray,” claimed Parmjeet Kaur.
Sources, however, claimed that the party leadership was not very much inclined to contact him and the rebel allegedly did not find much ground to contest independently.