Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Thursday received a major shot in the arm with old Akali warhorse and former Aam Admi Party (AAP) Punjab Convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur joining the party in the presence of SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal here.
Considered the most articulate champion of Panthic politics, peace and communal harmony, Chhotepur issued a fervent and emotional appeal to “all Punjabi and Panthic forces to close ranks and unite under a single Akali flag to fight and defeat the vicious three-pronged attack by outsiders to ‘vanquish Punjabi and Panthic Jazba.’
He said SAD alone could save Punjab and Punjabis from being turned into a zone of exploitation by Congress, BJP and AAP, all parties of outsiders.
The traditional Akali stalwart, who had quit the Barnala cabinet to protest police entry into Sri Harmandar Sahib in 1986, has been appointed Senior Vice president of SAD by party president Sukhbir Singh Badal. His candidature from the Batala assembly segment was also announced by Mr Badal on the occasion.
Welcoming him into “his mother party’, Badal said Jathedar Chhotepur’s return to the Akali fold symbolized the strengthening of the Panthic forces and the sentiment of peace and communal harmony in Punjab.
“Chhotepur Sahib has always been a champion of Punjabi pride and has done the most to expose outsiders’ conspiracies to divide the people of the state along communal lines. I have profound satisfaction today that the champion of unity of all Punjabis returns home when I am the chief sevadar of the party,” he said.
Amarinder Singh Tur, a grandson of Akali stalwart Jathedar Mohan Singh Tur, also joined the party along with Chhotepur.
Talking to media persons on the occasion, Chhotepur said the future of Punjab’s unique cultural identity as well as peace, progress and prosperity were in danger of being hijacked by a vicious three-pronged attack by non-Punjabi “invaders”, the Congress, the BJP and the AAP.
“All three want to usurp the destiny of Punjab by creating divisions, hatred and misunderstandings not only between two brotherly communities, the Hindus and the Sikhs but also by engineering a civil war within the Sikh quom. Hindu Sikh harmony and Panthic unities were the sacred principles and the first and the foremost need of the hour to ensure a prosperous future for Punjabi children and youth,” he said.
He also hit out at AAP Convener Arvind Kejriwal saying the latter was only interested in becoming a chief minister himself. “This is why he sits on stage with Bhagwant Mann and Harpal Cheema and states that the party is searching for a capable person”.
When queried, Chhotepur said all money collected from NRIs abroad had been deposited into accounts in Delhi and that an ED inquiry should be conducted into how these funds had been embezzled.
He said Kejriwal hated Punjab and Punjabis from the core of his heart and heaps contempt and humiliation on every Punjabi leader in AAP who tries to raise his or her voice in favour of the state.
“He just wants to use and abuse Punjab and Punjabis for his personal ambition. Anyone who asked Kejriwal not to trample upon the Punjabis’ self-respect and dignity were not only shown the door but openly and brazenly humiliated. This is the sole reason all Punjabi leaders such as H S Phoolka, Dharambir Gandhi, Kanwar Sandhu, Sukhpal Khaira and even Bhagwant Mann were treated like dispensable filth. Every MLA of the party is regularly insulted by Kejriwal, resulting in an exodus from the party. Kejriwal would rather see AAP wiped out from Punjab than respect the dignity of Punjabis even within his own party. This man is an entrenched Punjab hater,” he added.