A former three-time Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA and cabinet minister, Captain Balbir Singh Bath, joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He was welcomed into the party fold by state convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur, Punjab affairs in-charge Sanjay Singh and Faridkot MP Sadhu Singh.
Besides Bath, wife of former finance minister in the SAD government Captain Kanwaljit Singh who died in a road accident in 2009, Sarabjit Kaur along with her daughter Manpreet Kaur and popular singer Sukhwinder Sukhi also joined AAP.
Apart from them, a political outfit Secular Lok Raj led by Harchand Singh Barsat, former OSD of Captain Amarinder Singh, merged with AAP.
After joining the party, Bath said Taksali Akalis like him had been ignored for long by the SAD, which had become a fiefdom of the Badal family.
“Despite being a member of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC), I was not invited to any meeting in the past four years. I have joined AAP because I share the party’s political ideals,” he said.
The ex-MLA added that he had sent his resignation to SAD president Sukhbir Badal.
Bath remained MLA in 1997, 2002 and 2007 from Sri Hargobindpur in Gurdaspur. In 2011, he was made a cabinet minister with defence services portfolio in the Parkash Singh Badal government. Prior to the 2012 assembly polls, he was denied a ticket which went to Des Raj Dugga, who won the seat.
Later, replying to queries on the protest by AAP volunteers against the ticket allotment for 19 seats, state political affairs incharge Sanjay Singh said, “We make it clear to every person who joins us that if his aim is only to get the ticket, then he should go elsewhere.”
Taking a dig at deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, Sanjay Singh said he should be made a “comedy” minister instead of state home minister for his “irresponsible” statements against AAP leaders. “Sometime, he links the AAP with Khalistanis or the ISI, which indicates that he (Sukhbir) has lost his mental balance in fear of a humiliating defeat in the assembly polls, he said Even by raising the bogey of ISI threat, Sukhbir is making ground to conspire attacks on AAP leaders, he added.