If there is any prize for turncoat politicians, former deputy speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Bir Devinder Singh will be the undisputed winner in view of his proven track record of changing political parties.
From the All India Sikh Student Federation to the Congress, then an Independent, joining the Shiromani Akali Dal, the People’s Party of Punjab and then coming back to the Congress -- is how one can sum up his political career.
Every time he cites “ideology” issue for leaving or joining a party.
In yet another change of party and “ideology” in the season of elections, Bir Devinder has rejoined the Congress saying “it’s like coming back to roots”.
He became a political activist on the platform of the All India Sikh Students Federation in 1971.
During the last assembly elections, he had contested on the ticket of the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) from the Mohali seat in 2012 and lost his security deposit.
Bir Devinder has a long history of deserting parties. A prolific orator, Bir Devinder served in the AISSF from 1971-77. He joined the Congress in 1978 when Sanjay Gandhi was calling the shots. In 1980, he was elected MLA on the Congress ticket.
In 1984 after the Operation Bluestar, when some Sikh leaders, including Captain Amarinder Singh, decided to leave the Congress, Bir Devinder chose to stay put. However, he lost the election in 1985.
In 1986, when Beant Singh took over the reins of the Congress, Bir Devinder left the party to oppose him. He tried to join the SAD through Gurcharan Singh Tohra, but didn’t succeed. As there was governor’s rule during the time of militancy, finding no political party active, he decided to remain aloof.
In 1992, when elections were announced, he again tried to rejoin the Congress, but Beant Singh didn’t allow him. He contested as an independent from Sirhind and lost badly.
However, after the death of Beant Singh, he managed to make his entry into the Congress at the instance of new PPCC chief Captain Amarinder Singh in 1999 and won the 2002 assembly elections from Kharar for the Congress and was elected as deputy speaker of Vidhan Sabha in 2003.
In another twist in 2008, he criticised Amarinder and left the party and joined the Akali Dal. He exchanged hugs with Sukhbir Badal and said joining SAD was like homecoming. But the “relationship of convenience” with SAD didn’t work out and he left the Akali Dal in 2010 by saying that “SAD has lost its original ideology”.
This time he was lucky as he immediately found a new platform, the PPP, when Manpreet Singh Badal floated the party by parting ways with SAD.
Here also he left the party by stating that Manpreet was autocratic. However, when the Congress didn’t take him back in 2011, he again pressured Manpreet through NRIs and rejoined the PPP to contest the 2012 assembly elections.
After his defeat, he left the PPP and remained in limelight by giving political statements, sometimes suiting the Akalis and sometimes to the Congress, to test the waters.
As SAD didn’t give him ample importance after the formation of the SAD-BJP government in 2012, he went into oblivion. Finding it tough to survive, he once saw hope in the Aam Aadmi Party, but when it didn’t work out, he made all efforts to rejoin the Congress in 2014.
From PPCC president Partap Bajwa to former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, MP Ravneet Singh Bittu and former minister Surinder Singla, he tried to convince all but got entry only when Captain Amarinder put a word for him. And thus he is praising Amarinder as a hero, whom he portrayed as villain in 2007.
“I earnestly feel that parting from the roots has been a very painful experience. I owe my upbringing to the Congress where I spent more than three decades of my life. The Congress was always my home and nothing is sweeter than returning home,” he described his feelings on joining the Congress.