A day after local MLA Simarjit Singh Bains’ announcement in front of a roaring crowd to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Ludhiana as an Independent, two councillors extended support to Dakha MLA Manpreet Singh Ayali, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) candidate, on Thursday.
Municipal Corporation (MC) councillors Sarabjit Garcha (ward 75) and Kulwinder Singh Giaspura (ward 74) were welcomed and given siropas by Ayali. “We were with Simarjit because of the SAD. His rebellion has forced us to leave him and support Ayali, who is the best choice for the Lok Sabha polls,” the councillors said.
Ayali’s recent meetings in Ludhiana South, followed by a key decision in the MC general House meeting on releasing power connections to establishments falling under the mixed land use category, upset Simarjit and his MLA brother Balwinder Bains. This populist step has given Ayali ‘direct access’ to the constituencies of the Bains brothers (Atam Nagar and Ludhiana South). The two assembly segments have a large concentration of the small industry, which had been suffering over the years due to the absence of power connections.
In retaliation, the Bains brothers organised a major rally on Wednesday to announce Simarjit as the LS candidate. They also mocked Ayali’s anti-drug campaign, saying that the MLA and his men had been doling out drugs in the Dakha area.
The brothers’ supporters had climbed rooftops and walls of houses adjoining the Bains’ residence in Kot Mangal Singh area to listen to Simarjit, who had urged the electorate to root out the SAD-BJP combine and the Congress from the state and referred to these parties as the staple diet of “aloo sabzi” and “moongi-masri dal” which people were fed up with.
Meanwhile, Ayali and his supporters criticised the Bains brothers at a meeting organised at his residence in Ayali village on Thursday.
“Simarjit is telling a lie as it is not the Sikh Sangat’s decision to field him as a candidate. People in his area are upset at seeing him switching sides to fulfil his ambitions,” Ayali claimed.
Simarjit’s candidature is set to divide Sikh votes between him, Ayali and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate HS Phoolka. The possibility of the Congress gaining from the scenario cannot be ruled out.
Though the Congress is yet to formally announce its candidate, sitting MP and union information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari has been giving statements about contesting again from Ludhiana.