Setting aside their differences, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders from Khadoor Sahib parliamentary segment on Thursday put a united face, vowing to put their best efforts to ensure the victory of their party candidate Ranjit Singh Brahmpura from the constituency.
These leaders, many of whom have not been in talking terms for long, met for breakfast at the residence of Tarn Taran MLA and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Harmeet Singh Sandhu here.
The two most prominent faces were food and supplies minister Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, the son-in-law of Punjab chief minister, and revenue and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia, the brother-in-law of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal.
The two Badal clan relatives have not been in talking terms and prefer avoiding each other, even during assembly sessions.
However, despite their strained relations, the two have never gone public against each other.
Besides the party candidate Brahmpura, the others who attended the meeting included party MLAs representing the assembly segments falling under the Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha seat and halqa incharges of assembly seats from where Congress had won in 2012 elections.
Besides Kairon (Patti) and Sandhu (Tarn Taran), other MLAs present were Virsa Singh Valtoha (Khem Karan), Baljit Singh Jalalusma (Jandiala-reserve), Manjit Singh Manna (Baba Bakala-reserve) and Hari Singh Zira (Zira).
The halqa incharges present were Sarabjit Singh Makkar (Kapurthala) and Upinderjit Kaur (Sultanpur Lodhi). Brahmpura himself is the in-charge of Khadoor Sahib segment from where he had lost the last assembly polls.
Sources said the meeting was called at the behest of deputy chief minister and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who had brought Brahmpura and Sandhu together barely a couple of days back.
The two have never been on good terms and their rivalry has come into the open during panchayat and other local body polls.
Kairon's presence at Sandhu's residence also came as a surprise as the relations between the two have remained strained over the years. Kairon was credited with having brought Sandhu into politics in 1997 but the two fell out after the Tarn Taran MLA joined the Majithia camp.
Sukhbir Badal was reportedly keen that all the Akali leaders of the area sit together and iron out their differences, for which he had deputed Bikram Majithia.
Brahmpura himself was keen on resolving his differences with the youth leaders of his party ahead of the poll campaign. While the veteran leader gets along with Kairon, he has had strained relations with Valtoha, Manna and Jalalusam, three of whom are close to Majithia.
Kairon watched the proceedings and listened to those who spoke during the meeting. Majithia in his brief speech asked all those present to put in their best to ensure Brahmpura's victory by a handsome margin. He then went on to criticise the Congress and said that it would cease to exist in Punjab after the Lok Sabha polls.
Brahmpura on his part thanked chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy for having imposed trust in him. The 76-year-old leader, whose candidature has already been announced, is close to the chief minister.
After the meeting, all the leaders paid obeisance at Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, the historical shrine of Guru Arjan Dev.
Later, Kairon along with his wife Perneet Kaur inaugurated the 'Atta Daal Scheme' in Chabal town.
Ravinder Singh Brahmpura, chairman of Tarn Taran district planning board and son of the SAD candidate Ranjit Singh Brahmpura was present at the launch.
Kairon distributed wheat and pulses to some of the beneficiaries. He appealed to the people to vote for Brahmpura and ensure his victory.
Sitting MP absent
Sitting Khadoor Sahib MP Rattan Singh Ajnala was neither present at the meeting at Tarn Taran MLA Harmeet Singh Sandhu's residence nor did he attend the 'atta daal' launch in Chabal.
The MP has been keeping away from public functions ever since the Badals decided to replace him with Brahmpura. He did not attend the Modi rally at Jagraon on February 23.