Pro-Khalistani Amritpal's close aides Kulwant, Bhagwant, and Kalsi announce plans to contest Punjab assembly by-elections

The announcements of Bhagwant, Kulwant and Kalsi have heated up Punjab politics.
Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh
Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh

CHANDIGARH: Amritpal Singh, chief of Waris Punjab De and a pro-Khalistani figure elected as Member of Parliament from Khadoor Sahib, has yet to take oath while being detained under the National Security Act (NSA) at Central Jail in Dibrugarh. Three of his close associates and fellow detainees under NSA—Kulwant Singh Raoke, Bhagwant Singh alias 'Pradhan Mantri' Bajeke, and Daljeet Singh Kalsi—have announced their intentions to contest assembly by-elections from Punjab's Barnala, Gidderbaha, and Dera Baba Nanak, respectively.

The Panthic groups have set their sights on securing another assembly seat - Chabbewal. The Election Commission of India (ECI) has yet to announce the schedule for the by-elections, as four assembly seats have been declared vacant by the state assembly speaker. The ECI is mandated to schedule these by-polls within six months.

Talking to TNIE, Maha Singh cousin of Kulwant Singh Raoke said that when he spoke to Kulwant, he told him that he wanted to fight the assembly by-elections from Barnala and asked him to contact the panthic organization to prepare the founds for his elections. " I spoke to Kulwant on the phone and he told me that he has decided to fight the assembly by-polls from Barnala, as he had a discussion with Amritpal Singh and others who are lodged with him in the Dibrugarh Jail and took the decision to fight the by-polls, it was their collective decision,’’ claimed Singh.

Singh said, "Kulwant will be fighting the by-poll as an independent candidate when the by-polls are announced by the ECI. The state government has extended the NSA on them by another year, and this is illegal, so now they want to go to the court of the public," claimed Singh.

The 38-year-old Kulwant was working for Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) before his arrest under NSA. In 1987 his father Charat Singh faced NSA and never returned home after being picked up by the police in 1993. While Kulwant’s uncle and Charat’s younger brother Gurmail Singh, died in June 1984 in Operation Blue Star.

A video was released on social media by Narinder Kaur, wife of Daljeet Singh Kalsi claIming that Kalsi will be fighting assembly by-elections from Dera Baba Nanak, "I yesterday met Kalsi at the Dibrugarh Jail he is fine and I wanted to give his message to all of you that he has decided to fight the assembly by-polls from Dera Baba Nanak as it is his maternal parents village. We want your cooperation. Further information will be shared,’’ she said.

Sources describe Kalsi as a purported adviser and financier of Amritpal Singh, who frequented parties in the Punjabi film industry and travelLed abroad extensively.

Recently, Akashdeep Singh, claiming to be the son of Bhagwant Singh alias 'Pradhan Mantri' Bajeke, uploaded a video on social media, announced that Bhagwant will be fighting assembly by-poll from Gidderbaha assembly seat in Punjab.

Political analysts suggest that the recent electoral victories of Sarabjit Singh Khalsa, son of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassin Beant Singh, in the Faridkot Lok Sabha seat, and Amritpal Singh in the Khadoor Sahib parliamentary constituency have inspired Bhagwant and Kulwant to contest the upcoming assembly by-elections.

The Gidderbaha assembly seat fell vacant as Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring was elected to the Lok Sabha from Ludhiana, defeating Raveneet Singh Bittu of BJP.The Barnala assembly seat became vacant as AAP's Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer won from Sangrur Lok Sabha seat, previously serving as the sports and youth affairs minister in Bhagwant Mann's cabinet. Dera Baba Nanak assembly seat was vacated after Congress' Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa won from Gurdaspur parliamentary constituency, and the Chabbewal assembly seat was emptied as AAP's Raj Kumar Chabbewal won from Hoshiarpur Lok Sabha seat.

The announcements of Bhagwant, Kulwant and Kalsi have heated up Punjab politics.

Commenting on Amritpal Singh becoming a Member of Parliament from the constituency, Union Minister of State for Railways Ravneet Singh alias Bittu argued that voters may have mistakenly believed Singh would be released from jail. He stressed that the law is supreme, and any leader involved in anti-national activities will face justice. Bittu questioned what benefits the voters would receive when their MP cannot fulfill parliamentary duties.

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