After declaring MP Bhagwant Mann as candidate from Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal’s constituency Jalalabad, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) announced Delhi MLA and Sikh rights activist Jarnail Singh as candidate to contest in the electoral battle against Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal from his home turf Lambi in Muktsar district.
While making the announcement, AAP President, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that the party will field its strongest candidates against senior Akali leaders. “Captain (Amarinder Singh) and CM Prakash Singh Badal are working in collusion to rule Punjab turn by turn. This is why Congress had fielded its weakest candidates against Badals in last elections, but AAP will challenge Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD),” said Kejriwal.
Calling Bhagwant Mann the party’s ‘sabse bada neta’ (biggest leader), Kejriwal said Mann would give a tough fight to Sukhbir Badal in Jalalabad and Jarnail Singh would contest against Parkash Singh Badal in Lambi. “Ye Punjab ka sher hai, Delhi se aaya hai (This is Punjab’s tiger, come from Delhi),” said Kejriwal, referring to Singh after he announced his nomination from Lambi.
जो कहा,सो किया
स्वराज सही मायने में स्थापित
गुरुनानक नगर के निवासियों की सालों पुरानी परेशानी दूर
आउटर रिंग रोड से कालोनी में सीधा प्रवेश pic.twitter.com/ieKFfaubGK— Jarnail Singh (@JarnailSinghAAP) December 28, 2016
A former journalist, Singh had garnered attention when he flung a shoe at senior Congress leader P Chidambaram during a press conference in April 2009 in Delhi. He later said that it was to show his resentment against Congress for giving tickets to leaders who were accused of instigating anti-Sikh riots in Punjab.
Singh unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Assembly elections from West Delhi. In 2015, he was elected as the AAP MLA from Rajouri Garden. He was recently elevated as party spokesperson and co-incharge of AAP’s affairs in Punjab.
Evoking examples of Bhagat Singh and Kartar Singh Sarabha, Singh said that if elected to power, AAP will not let the accused involved in desecration of Guru Granth Sahib go scott free. “Over ten thousand farmers have committed suicides and drug trafficking continues unabated. Punjab nashe ki dharti ban chukya hai (Punjab has become haven of drugs). We will take the drug lords to jails,” he said.
Soon after the announcement, Punjab Congress President, Captain Amarinder Singh said AAP’s nomination of Jarnail Singh from Lambi against Parkash Singh Badal appeared to be a ploy to ensure the latter’s victory.
“Jarnail Singh was a complete non-entity, with no standing in Punjab,” he said, adding that his nomination against Badal has further proved that the party neither cared for Punjab nor for its people. Keeping cards close to its chest, Congress is yet to announce its candidate against CM Badal in Lambi.