Sirsa switches over to BJP before Punjab polls

Sirsa switches over to BJP before Punjab polls
© Provided by Hindustan Times Manjinder Singh Sirsa joined the BJP in the presence of Union ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Dharmendra Pradhan, and other senior leaders (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

Former Shiromani Akali Dal leader Manjinder Singh Sirsa on Wednesday joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the assembly elections in Punjab. The announcement came hours after he resigned as the president of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

The two-time MLA from Rajouri Garden assembly constituency and a prominent Akali Dal face in Delhi, Sirsa joined the BJP in the presence of Union ministers Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Dharmendra Pradhan, and other senior leaders. He also met Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda later in the day.

“There are several issues concerning the Sikh community across the country, and these can be resolved only by the government. I have always raised these issues. I discussed some with home minister Amit Shahji today. I’m happy to inform you that the minister said that he wants to address all these issues,” Sirsa said, adding, “In the national capital, Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Ji was martyred…But we couldn’t even get one university for the Sikh community in the past 70 years due to our weak leadership (it was unclear whether he was talking about the community or SAD leader). What’s the point if the concerns of the community which fights on the borders are not addressed for years? I’m joining the party (BJP) to work for our community, its welfare and continue humanitarian work.”

Sirsa, who won the Delhi assembly election in 2013 and 2017, has been actively working as DSGMC president for the past few years. Under his leadership, the DSGMC was actively involved in providing medical facilities and other essential services during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, especially during the second wave when there was an oxygen crisis in the capital.

Hours before he joined the BJP, Sirsa tweeted, “With gratitude to all office bearers, members, staff & people who worked with me; I am resigning from Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee as President. I will not contest the upcoming DSGMC internal elections. My commitment to serving my community, humanity & nation remains the same!”

Akali Dal spokesperson Daljit Singh Cheema said the BJP poached Sirsa using pressure tactics by involving him in false cases. “Sirsa has been fighting for issues related to the Sikhs under difficult circumstances, but our party feels sad that he succumbed to the pressure this time. However, other leaders of our party, including Akali Dal’s Delhi unit President Harmeet Singh Kalka are standing tall against the odds,” he added.

Shiromani Akali Dal left the National Democratic Alliance last year over the three contentious farm laws, which were recently repealed.

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