In a development that may further strain Akali-BJP relations, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) vice-president and noted Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans has resigned from the primary membership of the party. He is likely to join the saffron party in the near future.
A prominent face of the party from the Valmiki community that holds sway in many constituencies of the state, especially in the Doaba region, Hans was not feeling "happy" in the SAD after he was denied the Lok Sabha ticket from Jalandhar earlier this year. The party had picked chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) and Adampur MLA Pawan Kumar Tinu, who went on to lose to Chaudhary Santokh Singh of the Congress.
After Hans openly revolted against Tinu's candidature, Punjab deputy chief minister and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal had visited his house to pacify him and had reportedly promised to give him an 'honourable' post. Persuaded by the SAD chief, Hans campaigned for party candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Bathinda parliamentary constituency for around a month this year.
The singer, who was handpicked by Sukhbir to join the SAD in 2008 in order to contest the 2009 parliamentary polls from Jalandhar, had lost by a margin of more than 36,000 votes to Congress candidate Mohinder Singh Kaypee. However, he had managed to get a big lead from rural areas falling under the seat, especially Nakodar and Shahkot, which are dominated by Valmiki voters.
When contacted, Hans admitted that he had resigned from SAD a few days ago and had sent his resignation to the party chief through the district SAD president Charanjit Singh Channi.
"I resigned because I want to give some time to myself for self-realisation. I want to disassociate myself from all political activities. I don't have any regret or ill-will against anyone. I have cited these reasons in my resignation," said the Sufi singer.
Sources close to Hans revealed that the singer left the SAD as he felt sidelined by the party high command. With Hans' exit, the SAD has no prominent Valmiki face in Doaba.
Well-placed sources in the BJP disclosed that the singer was almost set to join the saffron party shortly and was in touch with the party's top brass.
Hans calls himself an admirer of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He claims that his association with Modi dates back to 2001, when after the Bhuj earthquake, he performed at a charity show organised by the Gujarat government. When asked about whether he would join the saffron party, he replied, "For the time being, I cannot said anything."
SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema and district party president Charanjit Channi refused to comment on the issue. SAD sources revealed that the party was yet to discuss the matter pertaining to Hans' resignation.