At a relatively elaborate affair, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) member Capt Amarinder Singh made singer-actor Balkar sidhu join the party here on Tuesday, but his entry may just be another minor act in the political theatre of perception ahead of the Punjab assembly polls due next February.
While his singing and acting career has hit a plateau, if not dipped, in the past few years, even his political career did not really work out to a script. Due to his proximity with comedian-turned-politician Bhagwant Mann, he had been given the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) ticket to fight the Talwandi Sabo bypoll in 2014. Initially he was seen as a solid pick due to him being a celebrity, that too from the Bathinda district in which the constituency falls. However, later some allegations of human trafficking were levelled against him that led to a turn of the tide against him even before his boat could set sail. As social media anger rose, several people started posting his older songs allegedly glorifying alcohol also on websites such as Facebook and Twitter.
This led to him being replaced by a local lecturer, Baljinder Kaur, as the AAP’s bypoll candidate. She now happens to be the AAP’s Punjab women’s wing chief. It meant loss of face for AAP’s Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann too, who sought to placate him even through public statements of being old friends. However, a spurned Sidhu turned against the AAP completely, and filed his nomination papers as an Independent after which he was expelled from the AAP. It did not really work out, though, as he finished a poor fourth.
Not surprisingly, the election was won by ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, who had been the sitting Congress MLA from there, but had necessitated the bypoll after resigning from the assembly membership as well as his party, the Congress. Harminder Singh Jassi of the Congress — a former MLA and a relative of Haryana’s Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda sect head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh — was a distant second by a margin of over 46,000 votes.
Jeet Mohinder polled 71,747 votes, Jassi got 25,105, while AAP’s Baljinder Kaur managed 13,899. Balkar Sidhu got 6,305 votes.
Now, the singer-actor’s past may be back to haunt him anyhow, while his present too may not hold much promise for the future for the Congress or him. In sum, his entry may only be a headline-grabbing and AAP-drubbing exercise by Amarinder as the former chief minister seeks to gather pace much ahead of the 2017 polls. At the Balkar-entry event too, Amarinder made significantly severe statements against the AAP, terming the Arvind Kejriwal-led party as “anti-national”.