Once a bitter critic, former Congress MP Brar joins SAD, calls it ‘return to roots’

Raakhi Jagga
Jagmeet Brar with Sukhbir Badal in Muktsar. (Express Photo: Gurmeet Singh)

In a homecoming of sorts, former MP Jagmeet Singh Brar, who was at loggerheads with the Badals for four decades, Friday joined the Shiromani Akali Dal in the presence of party patron Parkash Singh Badal and president Sukhbir Badal.

Brar had in the past blamed Parkash Singh Badal for the death of his father, who too was an Akali leader and had suffered a heart attack after being denied a party ticket to contest the bypoll from a Lok Sabha seat vacated by the SAD patron.

As Sukhbir handed him a badge with 'Proud To Be An Akali' embossed on it, Brar referred to the SAD chief as "younger brother" and his Union minister wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal as sister. "I needed a platform to work for Punjab and Punjabis. I do issue-based politics. I am happy that SAD has accepted me. This is the greatness of Parkash Singh Badal. In fact, I started my political career with Akali Dal. My father Gurmeet Singh Brar was a SAD MLA and had worked in close association with Parkash Badal," Brar said.

Brar, who was expelled from the Congress where he had spent more than 30 years, then joined the All India Trinamool Congress and was its state president before quitting the party last year. Since then he was in political wilderness.

The former MP claimed he joined Akali Dal unconditionally. "I never asked and they never made any commitment to me regarding contesting the Lok Sabha election from Bathinda or Ferozepur seats. I will do whatever duty I am assigned by the party," he said.

He accepted that he had offered to join the Congress unconditionally. Earlier in the day, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had shown to the media some WhatsApp messages that Brar had sent urging the Congress to accept him in its fold. "I am surprised at the Congress's reaction to my joining the SAD when I am no longer part of the Congress. Amarinder made my WhatsApp messages public. I had sent them in the larger interest of Punjab. I too know secrets of many senior leaders, but I will remain in 'maryada' and focus on politics of issues rather than indulging in personal attacks."

Brar said he worked for 40 years in the Congress under six party presidents – Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Narsimha Rao, Sitaram Kesri, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. "Just because I have switched to Akali Dal doesn't mean I will launch personal attacks on them."
Brar had contested 10 elections, of which eight were for Lok Sabha in which he was successful only twice – in 1991 and 1999 – from Faridkot.

Though Brar didn't talk about his victory against Sukhbir, the former Deputy CM said, "I remember Brar once defeated me when I was new to politics. I did not even know the names of villages and how to make a political speech. His political career inspires me a lot and we are happy to have him as a team member".

The mutual admiration was again on show when Brar recalled his father's relations with Harsimrat's father Rajmohinder Majithia and praised her as an "effective parliamentarian". Harsimrat stated that Brar's life offered her great lessons.