Kahlon Joins BJP hours after expulsion from SAD

  • | Friday | 17th May, 2024

/In a significant political development, especially related to Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency, Shiromani Akali Dals (SAD) senior leader Ravi Karan Singh Kahlon — son of Punjab Vidhan Sabhas former Speaker Nirmal Singh Kahlon — joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday, mere hours after he was expelled for anti-party activities.   Kahlon, who was SADs general secretary and in-charge of Dera Baba Nanak assembly constituency, made the switch to the saffron brigade alongside his several supporters. The move comes as a blow to the Akali Dal and a boost to the BJP, particularly in Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency, where Dera Baba Nanak is one of the nine assembly segments.   The development also assumes significance as it came on the day when Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was campaigning for Aam Aadmi Partys (AAP) candidate from Gurdaspur Amansher Singh Shery Kalsi, and addressed a huge public rally in Congress candidate Pratap Singh Bajwas assembly segment, Qadian.   Ravi Kahlons political lineage and influence in both Dera Baba Nanak and Fatehgarh Churian are significant. His father, Nirmal Singh Kahlon, was a two-time MLA from Fatehgarh Churian and served as the Rural Development and Panchayat Minister in 1997 and Vidhan Sabha Speaker from 2007 to 2012. With Kahlons switch, BJP is expecting to consolidate its position in Punjab, especially Gurdaspur, ahead of the June 1 Lok Sabha elections.   Notably, Ravi Kahlon had lost to the Congresss Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa by a mere 466 votes in 2022 state assembly polls, amidst the AAPs tsunami.   Randhawa, the former Deputy Chief Minister, is the Congresss Lok Sabha candidate in Gurdaspur, where AAP has fielded Amansher Singh Sherry Kalsi, and SAD has fielded former Minister Daljit Singh Cheema. The BJP, this time, is betting on its former MLA Dinesh Singh Babbu after dropping Bollywood superstar Sunny Deol, who in 2019 routed Sunil Jakhar, then with the Congress.   Gurdaspur is considered to be a BJP stronghold as the party had contested this seat even when it was an ally of the SAD. The late Bollywood actor Vinod Khanna won this Lok Sabha seat on the BJP ticket in 1998, 1999 and 2004. He lost to the Congresss Partap Singh Bajwa in 2009 but bounced back in 2014. However, after the death of Vinod Khanna, Sunil Jakhar won the seat for the Congress in a 2017 bypoll. In 2019, Bollywood actor Sunny Deol defeated Jakhar.   With a rich political legacy and significant influence, Ravi Kahlons defection is set to impact the electoral dynamics, particularly in Gurdaspur constituency. The BJP hopes to leverage this new alignment to strengthen its foothold in Punjab, a state where the saffron party is contesting elections independently for the first time and struggling amidst ongoing farmers protests.   At his induction into the BJP, Ravi Kahlon did not hold back in his criticism of the SAD leadership, and accused Bikram Singh Majithia of wielding undue influence and sidelining those who questioned the partys direction. Sukhbir Singh Badal is merely a rubber stamp, with Majithia pulling the strings, Ravi Kahlon stated. He also highlighted the absence of due process in his expulsion, noting that he had raised concerns about maintaining the partys integrity and image.   BJP state president Sunil Jakhar, welcoming Ravi Kahlon into the party, emphasized the growing trend of leaders from other parties gravitating towards the BJP.   Ravi Kahlon, who became SADs member in 1992 and previously led the Youth Akali Dal, faced expulsion from the party on Wednesday evening. SAD spokesperson and Gurdaspur candidate Cheema, announced on the X, that SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal had expelled Ravi Karan Singh Kahlon, the in-charge of Dera Baba Nanak Assembly, from the partys primary membership. Cheema cited Kahlons anti-party activities and backstabbing as the reasons for his expulsion, emphasizing that indiscipline would not be tolerated under any circumstances.  

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