Three prominent Akali leaders in Punjab were courted by the BJP

In the wake of allegations that the BJP had allegedly reached out to three prominent Akali leaders, the SAD kicked off its two-day brainstorming session today with the aim of narrowing down the Lok Sabha candidates.

According to sources, the saffron party has made contact with former ministers Surjit Singh Rakhra, Sikander Singh Maluka, and his son Gurpreet Singh Maluka, as well as former MP Prof. Prem Singh Chandumajra.

According to sources, Chandumajra was given the ticket by Anandpur Sahib, where he had unsuccessfully challenged Congressman Manish Tewari in the 2019 General Election, but he chose to remain with the Akali Dal. The SAD intends to run him from Anandpur Sahib this time, but he may also run from the Patiala parliamentary seat in opposition to Preneet Kaur, the BJP candidate, and Dr. Dharamvira Gandhi, the former AAP MP who just joined the Congress and is expected to run on the party ticket.

While the Congress and the BJP have significant support in the Anandpur Sahib seat, Chandumajra and his son hold sway in several areas of Patiala. SAD spokesman Dr. Daljeet Singh Cheema may run from Anandpur Sahib if Chandumajra moves to Patiala. He has been aggressively vying for this constituency’s ticket.

According to sources, separate discussions were held with Surjit Singh Rakhra, his son Gurpreet, and Sikander Singh Maluka. Rakhra’s family has business in the USA, hence he has intimate access to the BJP’s national leadership. The Maluka family has stayed with the Akali Dal through thick and thin, so far, and has not accepted the BJP.

According to sources, the state’s conventional BJP leaders—apart from the RSS—were against admitting Akali politicians into the party. They said that had this been the case, the BJP ought to have pursued an alliance with the SAD.

While it is expected that Anil Joshi, who joined SAD in 2021 after being expelled by the BJP, would run from Amritsar, the party is having difficulty choosing candidates for Gurdaspur, Khadoor Sahib, and Hoshiarpur. Even though Bikram Majithia is Khadoor Sahib’s campaign manager, the party may not field him from this position since SAD intends to run a one-family, one-ticket strategy in the Lok Sabha election.

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