In a setback to ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in the city, senior deputy mayor and three-time councillor Avtar Singh Truckanwala on Thursday evening joined Congress along with few other local BJP leaders in the presence of party’s star campaigner Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Close to the family of former SAD member of legislative assembly (MLA) and Congress candidate from Amritsar South Inderbir Singh Bolaria, Truckanwala has considerable sway in the Amritsar South and Amritsar East segments from where Sidhu is contesting the elections. He had been elected thrice as a councillor from ward number 29, 36 and 15.
He came into limelight after another local SAD leader Navdeep Singh Goldy had allegedly manhandled him and tossed his turban in a meeting held regarding the development of Amritsar South assembly segment in August last year. Goldy had not been suspended from the party, but an FIR was registered against him. However, he was reinstated by the Akali leadership. The senior deputy mayor was upset over Goldy’s reinstatement. “How can I stay in a party which accommodates the man who tossed my turban irrespective of my age which is equal to that of his father’s. So, I left the party for my dignity and self-respect,” he said while speaking to Hindustan Times.
“Apart from this, Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia, who is at the helm of affairs in Majha, has harassed me time to time by cutting my ticket and changing my wards during the municipal corporation elections. Still I have always won wherever I have contested from,” he said.
“Being the senior most Akali, I deserved a lot for the SAD ticket in Amritsar South for assembly elections, but again, I was ignored and the ticket was allotted to Gurpartap Singh Tikka. These are the main reasons behind my decision,” he said, adding, “Sidhu’s character like honest politicians appealed to me as well”.
Truckanwala did a show of strength at Simran Palace here on Thursday late evening where Sidhu as well as senior Congress leader and former MLA Jasbir Singh Dimpa arrived to induct him into the party. Besides him, several local BJP leaders including Ashwani Sharma and Harpreet Singh Jammu also joined Congress.
This is a second big jolt to the SAD’s urban vote bank as just a week ago, Surinder Singh Sultanwind, chief of Akali councillors in Amritsar, joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the presence of senior AAP leader and Delhi deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.