Ruchika M Khanna
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 14
Pressure from the Sikh diaspora as well as from his own party leaders today forced SAD (Taksali) president Ranjit Singh Brahmpura to withdraw former Army Chief Gen JJ Singh (retd) as the party candidate from Khadoor Sahib.
He said his party would extend support to Punjabi Ekta Party (PEP) candidate Paramjit Kaur Khalra. “We have withdrawn our candidate in favour of Bibi Khalra. We have also asked her not to contest merely as a PEP candidate, but of all parties opposed to the Akali Dal and the Congress,” Brahmpura told The Tribune.
This makes the election in this Panthic constituency a three-cornered fight between Khalra, Jagir Kaur (SAD) and Jasbir Singh Dimpa (Congress). Sources say though the entire Taksali leadership was in favour of withdrawing Gen JJ Singh’s candidature, as much for unity as for the lukewarm response he was getting from electorate there, but Brahmpura remained adamant till some leaders from the diaspora intervened.
“I was convinced by their argument that Panthic votes would be divided and others (the Congress and the Akali Dal) would benefit,” he said.
Though both SAD (Taksali) and PEP leaders deny that talks of forging an alliance between the two sides have once again been initiated, sources say the alliance is being worked out by influential Sikh leaders settled abroad.
Brahmpura told The Tribune, “As of now the understanding is only for one seat. Let us see how things work out. In the larger interests of Punjab and the community, we are open to every possibility,” he said.
Sukhpal Singh Khaira, PEP president, when contacted, said he was appreciative of the magnanimity shown by the Taksalis by withdrawing their candidate and it would boost Bibi Khalra’s chances in the polls. “This is a step towards forging 100 per cent unity in Punjab against the traditional parties,” he added.
‘Won’t contest now’
Mohali: Talking to The Tribune, Gen JJ Singh (retd) said it was his call (to withdraw) as it was useless to fight among each other. He, however, said he would not contest from any other seat in Punjab as he was sure of his win from the Khadoor Sahib constituency. He said he had urged the party president that he would like to withdraw the candidature as Bibi Khalra was contesting the elections. He said Sukhpal Singh Khaira should have realised it earlier that it was of no use of fighting against each other and fielded a joint candidate to give a tough fight to the SAD and the Congress. TNS