Shahkot bypoll: Despite illegal mining charges, Hardev Singh Ladi is Cong candidate again
Bypoll to the Shahkot assembly constituency seat, which fell vacant following the death of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Ajit Singh Kohar, will be held on May 28.Updated: May 03, 2018 20:34 IST
Even amid allegations of illegal mining levelled against Hardev Singh Ladi, the state’s ruling party Congress declared him as its candidate for the assembly bypoll for Shahkot constituency scheduled for May 28 on Thursday. Ladi, 50, a general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), had lost the poll last year to Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Ajit Singh Kohar, whose death necessitated the bypoll.
The SAD has fielded Kohar’s son, Naib Singh, while the principal opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is yet to declare a candidate.
Ladi is known to be a close aide of former minister Rana Gurjit Singh, who quit the cabinet in January after his name cropped up in an alleged scam in the allotment of sand mines. The state Congress unit, in a post on Twitter (@INCPunjab), attached an official communique stating that party president Rahul Gandhi had approved the candidature of Ladi. This is being seen to placate Rana, who is reportedly miffed with the party high command and chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh because his hopes of returning to the cabinet after a “clean chit” by a probe panel remain dashed.
‘Sting’ fuels fight within
Meanwhile, other contenders for the Congress ticket are miffed too. This, as Ladi’s purported sting video, in which he was allegedly demanding a share from sand mining contractors for a quarry allocated in Kaimvala village, has gone viral. The 13-minute video reportedly recorded in November last year was released by Jasveer Singh, owner of the land on which the quarry is located.
Following these allegations, five Congress leaders, Brij Bhupinder Singh, Captain Harminder Singh, Rajanbir Singh, Navjot Dahiya and Puran Singh Thind, all considered contenders from the ticket, came out against Ladi and passed a “resolution” to appeal to the high command to give the ticket to a “non-controversial” person instead. Dahiya said they will hold a meeting on Friday to decide the next step, and plan to meet top leaders “to tell them about the ground reality of Ladi”. “For now, it’s a party decision and the leaders would have taken it after thinking.”
Ladi, meanwhile, thanked the high command for showing faith in him. Regarding the “sting”, Ladi said it was “a well-planned conspiracy” against him. “Some people can’t see someone rising, hence they planned this conspiracy so that I won’t get the ticket. But, with the blessings of the public, I have got the ticket,” he said.