In a clear sign of ‘a deal gone sour’, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has expelled former president of Nabha municipal committee Gurbakshish Singh Bhatti from the party membership for six years for his alleged involvement in anti-party activities, five days after he had joined the party in the presence of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal in New Delhi on March 23.
Bhatti was elected to the Nabha committee as an Independent and had been inducted into the SAD, ostensibly to let it win the post of the president of the civic body.
However, in the elections for the post of the president of the committee on March 24, Bhatti, a former BJP leader, and the president of the Nabha municipal committee from 2008-2013, decided to vote against party candidate Gursewak Singh Golu, in the presence of cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra. Bhatti had contested the elections as an Independent after BJP denied him the ticket in the MC elections.
Besides expelling Bhatti, the SAD has also served showcause notices to four other SAD councilors for their anti-party activities during the president election on March 24, as they too voted against the official party candidate.
These SAD councillors — Manwinder Singh Lassi, son of senior SAD leader Manjit Singh Lassi, Harpreet Singh and Bablu Khora, both close protégés of Youth Akali Dal (YAD) president Harpal Juneja, and Ashok Bittu, a nephew of former MLA Ramesh Singla — have been asked to file a reply to the notice within 15 days.
These five councilors had voted for Harpreet Singh, a YAD leader. Interestingly, the SAD did manage to install its candidate on the president’s post with the help of support from the Congress, after getting seven votes from the rival party.
SAD Patiala district president Deepinder Singh Dhillon said, “The action was taken after party president Sukhbir Singh Badal took serious note of Bhatti’s action.”
The expulsion of Bhatti has come as a shock to the group led by former MLA Raja Narinder Singh, who had backed Bhatti and made him to join SAD. This has also led to the widening of the rift between the Narinder group and another group led by constituency in-charge Makhan Singh Lalka, who orchestrated Bhatti’s expulsion by complaining of anti-arty activities.
“Lalka complained about Bhatti and apprised party president about Bhatti and other four councillors’ opposition against party candidate for president. Following this, Sukhbir directed me to take strict action,” Dhillon said.
When contacted, Bhatti added he was yet to get any information on his reported expulsion from the matter.