Arvind Kejriwal circulated my name as CM face, told him to stop it: SSM chief Balbir Singh Rajewal
Balbir Singh Rajewal questioned the 'delay' in the allotment of party symbol to his outfit by the Election Commission, calling it a BJP and AAP conspiracy.
SAMRALA: Sanyukt Samaj Morcha chief Balbir Singh Rajewal, who heads a front of farmer unions, has accused AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal of trying to defame him by "circulating" his name as their CM face for the Punjab Assembly polls before the party picked Bhagwant Mann.
Rajewal defended his outfit's decision of fielding Lakha Sidhana, an accused in a case related to the Delhi's Republic Day violence last year, saying farmer leaders did not want him initially but he was "people's choice" and promised to "mend his ways".
The farmer leader also questioned the "delay" in the allotment of party symbol to his outfit by the Election Commission, calling it a BJP and AAP conspiracy.
The Sanyukt Samaj Morcha (SSM) is a political front of several farmer outfits who had taken part in a year-long protest at the Delhi borders against the Centre's contentious farm laws, which have been now withdrawn.
Before the SSM was formed, speculations were rife that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had approached Rajewal to become its CM face for the Assembly polls, which was denied by the AAP.
The farmer leader denied that he was approached by AAP for the CM's face but claimed his name was "circulated" by AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal.
After an election meeting on Sunday at a village in Ludhiana's Samrala, the constituency from where the farmer leader is contesting, Rajewal told PTI that he had asked Kejriwal to stop "circulating" his name.
"His strategy was to defame me by circulating my name as the CM face. I never said that I want to be the CM or hold talks with them," Rajewal said, stressing that he told the Delhi chief minister during a meeting that it was unacceptable and his party has given tickets by taking money.
AAP has in the past rejected accusations that they gave tickets after taking money.
Rajewal also said AAP had offered them 20 to 25 seats as against the demand of at least 60 seats.
He had earlier ruled out an alliance with AAP and claimed that his outfit never held talks with the party over seat-sharing.
Kejriwal had said an alliance with the SSM for the polls did not happen because of differences over seat-sharing.
When asked if his front will support AAP, Congress or any other party in situation of a hung Assembly after the polls, the farmer leader said it will be seen when time comes.
On giving ticket to the Republic Day violence accused Lakha Sidhana, Rajewal said it was "people's choice" and he was given ticket after due deliberations.
The leader, however, said they didn't "like" Sidhana during his stay at the Delhi protest site as he often spoke against them.
When asked then why they fielded him and that too after knowing his criminal background and the trouble he caused, Rajewal said Sidhana had "promised to mend his ways".
After the violence, Sidhana had rejected the charges, saying he was not involved in it.
On the allotment of party symbol, the farmer leader questioned the Election Commission's impartiality and accused the BJP and AAP of being in "hand in glove" against them.
He alleged that the BJP and the Election Commission are "playing a game", claiming that his outfit had responded promptly to the poll panel's objections over the application for the allotment of party symbol.
The farmer leader alleged that the poll panel never responded in "yes or no" to their application due to which they can't "approach the court" for the redress of their grievance.
"I as the SSM president wrote a letter to the Election of Commission of India through the state poll panel, which was forwarded but no reply was given," he said.
He alleged that the poll panel is "under pressure".
"Either they want to help the BJP or Kejriwal," he alleged. The farmer leader also condemned Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "remarks" after he was stuck on a flyover in Punjab's Ferozepur last month.
The PM had returned without attending a rally there and according to some reports he told officials at the Bathinda airport to thank the Punjab CM that he is going back alive.
Rajewal said to speak as if to "create a divide between Hindus and Sikhs in the state" on the part of the PM was condemnable.
"It was a political stunt to hide the fact that only a few people had turned up for the rally there," he claimed.
The farmer leader also targeted former CM Amarinder Singh, saying he "colluded" with the BJP over the farm laws.
As demanded, he did not place a resolution in the Punjab Assembly that farm laws encroach upon the state's rights as agriculture is a state subject, Rajewal said.
On Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, Rajewal said his elevation was an attempt by the Congress to mislead the Scheduled Castes community.
At the election meeting, the SSM leader promised interest-free loan for farmers besides crop diversification to improve their situation.