The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Wednesday suffered a serious jolt as Davinder Singh Ghubaya, son of party’s sitting MP from Ferozepur, joined the Punjab Congress unconditionally, along with his uncle and supporters at New Delhi.
Davinder, 25, and his uncle Munsha Ghubaya (brother of Ferozepur MP Sher Singh Ghubaya) joined the Congress, along with Rajat Nehra, Pt Anand Sharma and Rajinder Kaur, in the presence of Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, read the release issued by the Congress late evening.
The announcement has laid to rest all speculations going on for a fortnight. It is not only expected to have an impact on the outcome of the Fazilka assembly segment (from where Davinder, an IIT-Roorkee graduate, is likely to be fielded) but also the adjoining Rai Sikh-dominating Jalalabad besides Guruharsahai and Ferozepur rural and urban segments, which have an ample number of Rai Sikhs, the politically powerful community to which Ghubayas belong.
SAD president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, the two-time MLA from Jalalabad, may face trouble upon re-contesting from this seat, as Rai Sikhs may shift their loyalty towards the Congress to avenge the alleged humiliation rendered to Sher Singh Ghubaya, who had vacated his seat (Jalalabad) for Sukhbir to ensure his maiden entry into the state assembly in 2009.
Earlier, the SAD had ignored its three-time MP Zora Singh Mann to field Ghubaya as its MP nominee in 2009. Ghubaya became entered Lok Sabha after defeating Congress heavyweight Sunil Jakhar in the 2014 elections.
Ghubaya, Sukhbir at loggerheads
Differences between Ghubaya and Sukhbir are an open secret. The MP has not participated in a single sangat darshan presided over by the deputy CM or the closing of the Kabaddi World Cup at Jalalabad.On the MP’s absence, Sukhbir’s common refrain was: "Only Ghubaya can reply to it.”
“Ghubaya would like to go down as a martyr by awaiting his suspension by Sukhbir Badal instead of facing disqualification under the anti-defection law by joining the Congress,” sources close to the MP said.
“We burnt the midnight oil and helped Sukhbir Badal win with a margin of 80,000 votes in 2009 and 50,000 in the 2012 assembly polls, but despite assurances by the party high command, nothing fruitful came out for Ghubaya. Even party patron and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was apprised about our problems, but all in vain,” said an aide of the MP, requesting anonymity.
Local Cong leader keeps ‘options open’
Meanwhile, in the Congress camp, Davinder’s entry has not gone down well with senior leader and former two-time MLA from Fazilka Mohinder Rinwa.
“Davinder’s induction may demoralise the party’s rank and file. They have been suffering at the hands of Akalis for the past 10 years, and now they have to bow in front of the same leaders who have joined the Congress,” said Rinwa.
Rinwa challenged Ghubaya to “first pass the litmus test” by contesting against Sukhbir and Aam Aadmi Party’s Bhagwant Mann from Jalalabad, saying the assembly seat has the largest number of Rai Sikh voters, adding: “In case Davinder gets the Congress ticket from Fazilka, we have kept all options open.”
Earlier, Davinder, who had been working for the SAD for the past six years, said he had been actively handling his father’s campaign and work. In response to a question, Davinder said he wanted to work for the betterment of Punjab, which he felt only the Congress was equipped to ensure.