In what leaves the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) red-faced, the party’s Jalandhar Cantonment MLA and former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh has refused to take oath as chief parliamentary secretary (CPS), scheduled to be administered by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in Chandigarh on Thursday.
Pargat, whose name was announced among seven MLAs to be elevated as CPS by the Punjab government on Tuesday, was upset with the SAD over “many issues” and was not ready to “fall in any trap of CPS”, a close associate of his told HT. Pargat has written a letter in this respect to CM Badal too, it is learnt, though the MLA maintained silence over the issue and had switched off his mobile phone.
There have been speculations that Pargat would leave the SAD and join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), while there were also murmurs of talks with the Congress. He has been missing functions attended by deputy CM and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal at Jalandhar in recent months, which HT had reported.
“Pargat is not happy with Sukhbir, who had promised him the moon while asking him to turn to politics and contest the 2012 assembly polls. After he won, he was not given any sports-related assignment even though he had been assured of that before he left his job as superintendent of police to join the SAD,” said a right-hand man of Pargat who is known virtually as his spokesman.
A senior Akali functionary from Jalandhar, while not wanting to be named, acknowledged the “open secret” in SAD circles that Pargat was miffed with the party, also because of a waste management plant for Doaba region being set up in Jamsher village of his constituency despite opposition to it.
He was quoted by his associates as having said, “What would I do as an elected representative when only a battery of officials is running the government? It’s better to find a way out rather than being embarrassed on a routine basis.”
In damage-control, which had eventually led to him being picked as CPS, revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia had called on Pargat early this month, when he shared his grouses.
It was only after this meeting that Pargat met Sukhbir in Chandigarh on April 17; but that does not seem to have worked for either side.
While Sukhbir had sought to play smart by making him CPS, Pargat’s move not to take oath has come as a boomerang for the Akali Dal.