Finding Dr Balbir Singh embroiled in a property dispute, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded a former Akali leader, Harjit Singh Adaltiwal, in the Patiala assembly byelection.
Adaltiwal, vice-chairman of Punjab State Backward Classes Commission in the Akali-BJP regime from 2009 to 2012, switched to the Aam Aadmi Party in April during the Lok Sabha elections after almost 36 years in the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
Most of his family is settled aboard.
Sources privy to ticket discussion said Dr Balbir Singh was frontrunner until his in-laws met AAP national convener Arvind Kejriwal and pointed out the land-grab case against him. The AAP changed its mind and allotted the ticket to Adaltiwal, who has canvassed in Patiala during the Lok Sabha elections and enjoys the backing of important leader HS Phoolka.
“I quit the SAD because of its anti-Punjab policies,” said Adaltiwal, thanking the AAP leaders and workers.
One of the losing aspirants, Kundan Gogia, is disgruntled. “Celebrities and deep pockets rule; there’s no space for a common man in the Aam Aadmi Party,” he said, threatening to hold parallel rallies to highlight “injustice”.