J A L A N D H A R    E D I T I O N

Akali Dal bigwigs’ defeat is Gurdaspur’s loss
Ravi Dhaliwal/TNS

Gurdaspur, March 19
The loss of three SAD heavyweights and the denying of party nomination to a former Cabinet Minister have meant that Gurdaspur district will be bereft of a minister to represent its interests in the Punjab Cabinet. This border district has seven Vidhan Sabha seats with the Congress winning five of them while SAD reigning supreme on just two seats. It is pertinent to mention here that Akali stalwarts like Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon and Ministers Sucha Singh Langah and Sewa Singh Sekhwan bit the dust at the hustings. Yet another senior SAD leader and former Cabinet Minister, Balbir Singh Bath, was denied the party nomination as his constituency Sri Hargobindpur was reserved after the delimitation exercise.

All eyes were on Gurdaspur legislator Gurbachan Singh Babbehali and Sri-Hargobindpur MLA Des Raj Dhugga getting Ministerial berths. However, some senior leaders, who were present at the SAD core committee meeting held at Chandigarh after the results were out, allegedly persuaded Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal not to take Babbehali into the Cabinet because, according to them, "his induction would imbalance the political permutations and combinations in the region which, in turn, will prove to be detrimental to the interests of the party." 


With neither Babbehali nor Dhugga in the Cabinet, senior leaders are upset that Gurdaspur will be without a Minister for the first time after a long time. In the SAD-BJP dispensation, which ruled the state from 1997 till 2002, the district was represented by Langah, Sekhwan and Kahlon, all three of whom remained Cabinet Ministers.

Balbir Bath, who is in political wilderness ever since he was denied the party ticket, said, "There is a vast difference between being a Minister and a legislator. A Cabinet Minister has unbridled powers while an MLA, even if is from the ruling party, has to strive hard to have his voice heard among officials of the civil administration and the police. 



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