Harsimrat Kaur Badal ends speculation on shifting from Bathinda to Ferozepur
Chandigarh, March 22: Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal today set at rest the speculations on shifting from Bathinda to Ferozepur that is considered to be safer seat saying “Why should I go to any other place”.
“Have I got people framed in false cases or have cheated people here? My sisters are with me here”, she said at a public meeting at Bathinda today. (Je das saal vich mein koi thuggi maree hove, koi gonnda tax lagvaiya hove jaan jhootha parcha kita hove).
At the same time, she said it has to be party decision.
However, going by the thrust of her speech, she would not be shifting to Ferozepur.
It may be mentioned here that Akali Dal president and her husband Sukhbir Singh Badal had earlier explored the option of shifting Harsimrat to Bathinda that has been assessed to be safer despite sitting MP Sher Singh Ghuaya having joined the Congress. She had won the last Lok Sabha election on Akali Dal ticket but later fell out with Sukhbir.
Sukhbir had sounded former minister Sikander Singh Maluka who gave Sangrur as his preference in case he was to be put up while suggesting former finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa from Bathinda.
One section in the party was of the view that shifting Harsimrat from Bathinda from where she has won twice would send out wrong signal and might adversely affect the party on other seats.
The issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib in 2015 and the police firing on Sikh protesters at Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan that was at the root of the Bargari agitation had put question mark on her being fielded again from Bathinda. Bargari is near Bathinda, although in Faridkot district.
Sukhbir is said to have sought support of Dera Sacha Sauda for Harsimrat in earlier Lok Sabha elections for his wife and it is this Dera that is in the eye of the storm on the issue of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib at Bargari and other places in the area. All the accused who have been arrested are followers of this Dera whose head Gurmit Ram Rahim is in jail in rape case.
His questioning is on the agenda of special investigating team probing the sacrilege and police firing related cases. This may cause further trouble for Sukhbir.
It may be mentioned here that Sukhbir had not sought Dera support for the party as such. Candidates cutting across party lines have been approaching this Sirsa based Dera individually for support that has considerable following in the Malwa area of Punjab.
This Dera was ostracised by the Akali Dal in 2007 after Ram Rahim appeared on stage in a dress akin to that of Guru Gobind Singh thereby provoking the Sikhs.
Harsimrat had succeeded in retaining the seat by a little more than 19,000 votes in 2014 despite the Akali Dal being in power.
The Akali Dal now faces the anger of a section of the Sikhs on the issue of sacrilege and police firing.
Harsimrat had attacked the leaders spearheading the Bargari agitation as agents of the Pakistani spy agency ISI.
She should fight it out in Bathinda as her shifting to Ferozepur could have demoralising effect on the party rank and file. Facing the challenge is more important.