Big blow to Akali Dal as former Mohali mayor’s group decides to go independent in MC polls
In a major blow to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), former Mohali mayor Kulwant Singh’s group on Monday decided to contest the upcoming municipal elections independently and not on party symbol. The elections are scheduled next month.
The decision was taken at a meeting held on Monday under the leadership of Kulwant Singh, where around 25 former SAD councillors were also present.
Just two days back, SAD had officially declared a list of 28 candidates (all of whom were former councillors), but on Monday, 22 of them sided with Kulwant.
In the 2015 elections, Kulwant had led the Azad group (of Independents) and won 10 seats. With the support of Congress, he was elected the mayor. Later, in 2017, he joined SAD.
“We want development of the city. All former councillors have decided to rise above party lines while contesting the MC elections. We are hopeful of winning all 50 seats,” said Kulwant.
Parvinder Singh Sohana, president, Youth Akali Dal, Mohali, said: “We will contest elections only under the leadership of Kulwant Singh.”
Last month, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal had appointed a five-member committee for the MC elections in Mohali. It included former MP Prem Singh Chandumajra and Kulwant.
“The party’s core committee has decided to contest on party symbol. The decision was taken in the presence of Kulwant Singh. He should have objected in the meeting itself,” said Chandumajra.
With the latest development, a four-cornered fight awaits the MC polls. In the fray are SAD, Congress, Aam Aadmi Party and Kulwant’s group. The splinter Akali group floated by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa has opted out of the elections and will support AAP candidates and Independents.
Meanwhile, Punjab cabinet minister and Congress leader Balbir Singh Sidhu said: “In 2015, we supported him (Kulwant) to become the mayor, but after 18 months ,he back-stabbed us and joined SAD. People of Mohali are aware of his truth and will give his group a befitting reply.”
The five-year term of the House ended on April 26 last year. Among the 50 wards, 25 have been reserved for women besides five for scheduled castes (including two for women) and two for backward classes (men).
Flip-flops so far
A real estate developer, Kulwant Singh was the SAD candidate from Fatehgarh Sahib in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
He along with other members of Azad group left the party over denial of candidature ahead of the first Mohali MC elections in 2015.
He went on to become Mohali’s first mayor in August 2015 as per an agreement with Congress.
As many as 27 councillors, including 10 from Azad group, 14 from Congress and two Independents, voted for him.
Rishabh Jain of Congress had secured senior deputy mayor’s post and Independent councillor Manjeet Singh Sethi became the deputy mayor with 23 SAD-BJP councillors deciding not to vote.
Later, in 2017, Kulwant went back into the SAD fold.