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Former Congress minister Bhupinder Lally joins SAD ahead of Shahkot bypoll

Lally was among five Congress leaders who had sought a “non-controversial” candidate for Shahkot bypolls.

punjab Updated: May 18, 2018 22:19 IST
Parampreet Singh narula
Parampreet Singh narula
Hindustan Times, Shahkot
Congress minister,Bhupinder Lally,Shahkot bypoll
Brij Bhupinder Lalli with SAD president Sukhbir Badal, who is also flanked by Hans Raj Hans, in Shahkot on Friday. (HT Photo)

Giving a jolt to the ruling Congress 10 days ahead of the Shahkot bypoll, former Punjab minister and senior party leader from the segment, Brij Bhupinder Singh Lalli, joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Friday.

SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal and former minister Bikram Singh Majithia along with party candidate Naib Singh and other senior leaders visited Lalli’s residence at Shahkot’s Kang Khurd village to formally welcome him into the party.

The bypoll, necessitated by the death of former Akali MLA Ajit Singh Kohar, will be held on May 28.

Lalli was one of the five ticket aspirants, who had opposed allocation of ticket to Congress candidate Hardev Singh Ladi Sherowalia, after a video of his demanding a share from the contractors to extract sand from a quarry went viral.

The five ticket aspirants, including Harminder Singh, Rajanbir Singh, Navjot Dahiya and Puran Singh Thind, had passed a “resolution” to appeal to the party high command to give ticket to a non-controversial person.

Besides showing resentment over the ticket to Laddi Sherowalia, Lalli also alleged interference of former minister Rana Gurjit Singh in the Doaba region. Rana Gurjit had to quit the cabinet in January after his name cropped up in an alleged scam in the allocation of sand mines.

“By giving a ticket to Laddi, who is surrounded by an illegal sand mining controversy, the Congress is giving a message that they have removed one (Rana Gurjit) and brought another,” Lalli said.

Lalli alleged that Sherowalia has also been encroaching on land in the area.

“Many Congress leaders from the Doaba region, including me, tried to meet chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh to bring the issue of interference by Rana Gurjit but he never listened to us. We even tried to convey the kind of image Sherowalia has in the area but to no avail,” Lalli said.

Sukhbir said Lalli’s entry not only strengthened SAD in Shahkot but the entire Doaba belt. “Lalli is known in the region as a bold leader who has a strong base,” he said.

Badal won’t canvass for SAD nominee

While Sukhbir will camp in the segment and address at least eight to 10 nukkad meetings daily, former CM Parkash Singh Badal won’t canvass for party candidate Naib Singh due to health issues.

“Because of health issues and age factor it will be difficult for him to come here to canvass here,” Sukhbir said.

(The story has been updated)

First Published: May 18, 2018 12:45 IST