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Beginning of the end?

Sitting MP Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala faces a bleak future after his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), picked veteran Ranjit Singh Brahmpura for the party ticket from Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha seat.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 13, 2014 00:51 IST
Harkirat Singh
Harkirat Singh
Hindustan Times

Sitting MP Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala faces a bleak future after his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), picked veteran Ranjit Singh Brahmpura for the party ticket from Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha seat.

What went against Ajnala was his family’s association with Maninderjit Singh alias Bittu Aulakh, who is behind bars in the Jagdish Bhola drug racket. The party was aware that the opposition Congress would use the issue against the SAD-BJP alliance if Ajnala were re-nominated from a constituency which has a high percentage of drug addicts.

Ironically, during his 31-year association with the SAD, the burly doctor had steered clear of controversy. But despite his proximity and loyalty to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, he missed the bus this time.

Sikh issues

In the Lok Sabha, Ajnala raised a number of issues concerning the Sikh community. He even made friends with opposition leaders such as Congress minister Jairam Ramesh and did not hesitate from discussing issues with them outside Parliament.

One such issue related to the demand for the formation of the Haryana Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (HSGPC), which was opposed by the SAD. The Congress government in Haryana had given its consent for the formation of the HSGPC, but without Parliament’s approval, such a committee’s existence was meaningless.

The matter was often raised in Parliament by Akali MPs, but they received no assurance from the UPA government. A chance meeting between Ajnala and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi perhaps brought about a change in the government’s stance on this matter.

Recalling the meeting, Ajnala said, “I bumped into Sonia Gandhi in a corridor in Parliament House. I greeted her with a ‘namaste’ and she replied with ‘Sat Sri Akal’. I managed to convince her that the creation of the HSGPC would hurt Sikh sentiments.”

Though the doctor got no assurance from the Congress president, thereafter there was no talk of the HSGPC in Parliament. “I think she seemed convinced by my views,” he claimed.

No major project

Ajnala might rue the fact that he couldn’t bring any major project that could have helped to create job opportunities in an area where an increasing number of the youth have fallen prey to the drug menace.

He was part of Parliament’s MPLAD funds committee which, in 2010, had decided to enhance the annual development grant to MPs from Rs 2 crore to Rs 5 crore each. However, MPLAD funds can only be utilised for carrying out minor development works, and while doing so, an MP has to appease his party’s area MLAs.

“I took up the issue of setting up a major industrial unit in my area, which has a long belt bordering Pakistan. But being an opposition MP, my demands did not carry much weight,” he adds, while claiming that the UPA government did nothing for the development of border districts in Punjab.

However, Ajnala made good use of his MPLAD funds. In terms of utilisation, he is ranked among the top three MPs of Punjab in the 15th Lok Sabha.

Thumbs down

Congress MLA from Kapurthala, Rana Gurjit Singh, who had lost to Ajnala in the 2009 polls, gives no credit to the Akali MP.

“Ajnala disappointed voters of his constituency, which is the most backward in Punjab. He drew up no elaborate plan for industrialisation of the belt,” says Rana.

On the Patti-Ferozepur rail link, Rana gives credit to his party’s Rajya Sabha member Dr Manohar Singh Gill.

Harminder Singh Gill, Congress candidate from Khadoor Sahib for the upcoming polls, says, “I have not seen a single stone or board in any village to show that Ajnala had got a road or a street repaired or built from his MPLAD funds. The only stones of MPLAD projects we see are of Manohar Singh Gill.”

According to Harminder, Ajnala used to hand over his quota of funds to the chief minister, who in turn distributed these at places outside Khadoor Sahib.

Tomorrow Part 33 of 34:
Ghulam hassan khan, ladakh

First Published: Mar 12, 2014 23:39 IST