Ex-Akali leader joins UP cabinet, party calls it betrayal

Chandigarh, Oct 31 (IANS) Punjab’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal on Saturday accused its former senior leader Balwant Singh Ramoowalia of “betrayal” and dubbed him “power hungry” after he was sworn in as a cabinet minister in Uttar Pradesh.

“Ramoowalia has displayed the height of political opportunism and power hunger by betraying the party that gave him everything to hitch his boat with the Samajwadi Party,” the party said in a strongly worded reaction within hours of Ramoowalia’s swearing-in as an Uttar Pradesh minister.

Ramoowalia, a former union minister and an ex-parliamentarian, merged his Lok Bhilai Party with the Akali Dal in November 2011, ahead of the January 2012 assembly polls in Punjab.

He contested the Mohali assembly seat in 2012 but was defeated.

“Ramoowalia’s action is reminiscent of the days of ‘aaya ram gaya ram’ politics,” senior Akali Dal leaders Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Maheshinder Singh Grewal, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Daljit Singh Cheema said in a statement here.

On the other hand, Congress leader and former chief minister Amarinder Singh said Ramoowalia’s move was “just the beginning of a massive exodus of leaders and workers from the Akali Dal”.

“It is a classic case of rats deserting a sinking ship. Gradually, all the rats will desert the Akali Dal before its ship sinks in the storm of widespread public outrage and outcry,” Amarinder said in a statement on Saturday.

“The very fact that Akali leaders have started seeking political asylum in far-off states clearly indicates that nobody is prepared to accept them in Punjab and hence they are running away for shelter to other states,” the deputy leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha said.

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