After being politically inactive for over a year now — ever since he left the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) around the end of 2014 — singer Hans Raj Hans, 51, on Saturday joined the Congress in the presence of its state unit president Capt Amarinder Singh here.
Hans, known primarily for his Sufi singing, said that had “tasted politics”, and could not stay away for too long therefore. “I was trapped in the Akali Dal by its top leaders. Badal saab (Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal) came to my house... I could not say no,” he said.
Hans, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste, had entered the Akali fold in 2009 and unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha election that year from Jalandhar, an SC-reserved constituency. He also remained the party’s vice-president but announced his exit — after much public posturing about feeling “sidelined” — from the SAD in December 2014.
Earlier that year, Hans was a contender for the LS ticket from Jalandhar, but the SAD chose Pawan Kumar Tinu, who went on to lose to Congress’ Chaudhary Santokh Singh. Hans made some noises but then settled to singing paeans to Badal’s daughter-in-law and now-Union-minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal in her LS contest from Bathinda. Months later, he left the party.
He recalled how he stayed in Bathinda for six weeks and acted as a crowd-gathering ‘forward singer’ during Harsimrat’s village rallies, coining on-the-spot lyrics panning her then-contender from the Congress fold, Manpreet Singh Badal. “She won, but there is no word of thanks from her; she is not even willing to meet,” he said.
On his Congress switch, Hans — who has the Padma Shri honour and was also awarded the Punjab Rattan during the Amarinder Singh regime — was all praise for the former CM, terming him “the protector of Punjab’s waters and the rights of the people”.
“After leaving the SAD I remained away from politics for about a year, but the scenario building up in the state forced him to approach the leaders of the Congress,” he said. Amarinder said Hans came into the party through MLA Kewal Dhillon, who was present at the joining.
Hans did not say if he would contest the assembly polls next year, though he said he would actively campaign for the Congress. “People of these communities are happy that I am at the right place now,” he said.