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SAD Leader Maluka’s Kin Join BJP, IAS ‘Bahu’ Could Contest From Bathinda

CM Mann adds twist, says resignation not accepted, mocks ‘biba’ saying first learn to understand proper procedure

For the first time since 1996, the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP are not contesting the elections in Punjab as alliance partners. So what does the lesser partner in the state politics do, it not only starts to poach on other major political parties, but also does not flinch from engineering defections from its senior ex-alliance partner.

After days of speculation, senior SAD leader and ex-cabinet minister Sikandar Singh Maluka’s zila parishad chairman son Gupreeet Singh Maluka and daughter-in-law Parampal Kaur Sidhu, who recently submitted her resignation as IAS officer to the Punjab government, officially joined the BJP in a ceremony in New Delhi on Thursday.

Though Sikandar Singh Maluka, a two time SAD MLA from Rampura Phul in Bathinda district and ex-cabinet minister in the SAD-BJP alliance government, himself continues to remain in the panthic party, the joinings by his family members has clearly sent out signals about his intentions.

Parampal Singh Sidhu is tipped to get the BJP ticket to contest the Lok Sabha elections 2024, polling for which is slated to be held in the state on June 1, from Bathinda constituency, the stronghold of three consecutive times MP from the seat and SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal’s wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal.

Though SAD is yet to announce its candidates from any of the 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, Harsimrat Kaur Badal looks certain to be retained the party candidate from the constituency. The ruling party in the state, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has already entered one of its senior ministers Gurmeet Singh Khudian in the arena anticipating that Harsimrat would be the natural SAD choice from the party’s stronghold.

Soon after the news broke about Parampal Kaur Sidhu formally joining the BJP, in anticipation of her resignation being accepted by the state government, Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann added a twist to the story.

SAD Leader Maluka’s Kin Join BJP, IAS ‘Bahu’ Could Contest From Bathinda, LifeinchdHe took to ‘X’ and strangely posted on his personal handle informing that “Parampal Kaur’s resignation as IAS officer has not been accepted by the Punjab government.” Literally mocking her he said “the way you were in a hurry to become IAS .. there are certain procedures for leaving it .. please understand the way to submit the resignation .. lest all the life’s earnings get into peril..”

Interestingly, less than a week ago, SAD had included Sikandar Singh Maluka in a 15-member manifesto committee of the party for the parliamentary elections headed by Balwinder Singh Bhundar. Ironically, he is also chairman of the Disciplinary Committee of SAD and is known to have been campaigning for Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Bathinda constituency till a day previous to the joinings in the BJP by his son and daughter-in-law.

The father and son are learnt to have been upset with the SAD high command’s decision to deny their claim for Gurpreet Singh Maluka to be fielded from his father’s constituency Rampura Phul and Sikandar Singh Maluka be allowed to contest from adjoining constituency of Maur in the last 2022 state assembly elections. Finally, only the father was granted the party ticket from his traditional seat Rampura Phul. He was swept away in the AAP wave in the state and lost to AAP candidate and Punjabi singer Balkar Singh Sidhu by over 10,000 votes.

Sikandar Singh Maluka first won from Rampura Phul in 1997, and then again in 2012. He lost in 2002 and 2007, and again in 2017 to Congress candidate Gurpreet Singh Kangar. Despite having lost the last two assembly elections – in 2017 and 2022 – Maluka exerts a significant influence in Bathinda constituency as a whole. His son Gupreet Singh Maluka was unanimously elected zila Parishad Bathinda chairman in 2023. He is also vice president of Punjab Olympic Association (POA) and president of the Punjab Kabaddi Association.

His daughter-in-law Parampal Singh Sidhu, a promotee IAS officer inducted into the 2011 batch of the all India service, was managing director of the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC) at the time of submitting her resignation.

According to a report in Indian Express, Sidhu, a philosophy and zoology postgraduate, became the first woman block development panchayat officer (BDPO) in Punjab in the early 1990s. Some of her appointments were mired in controversies because these happened in departments oversee by her father-in-law as minister.

In 2013, during the SAD-BJP government, an attempt was made to induct her as a Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officer through the nomination route, but the file was returned by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC). During that time, she served as an additional project director in the office of the director general of school education during the tenure of her father-in-law as education minister.

After a cabinet reshuffle, Maluka was assigned the rural development and panchayat department portfolio, leading to Parampal’s appointment as the district development panchayat officer (DDPO) in Bathinda in 2015. On December 1, 2015, she was promoted to deputy director in the panchayat department, and shortly after her case was forwarded to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) for induction as an IAS officer through the nomination route.

Joining as a non-state civil services IAS officer on January 15, 2016, during the SAD-BJP rule, her initial posting was as additional deputy commissioner (general) in Bathinda. Despite joining in January 2016, she was given the 2011 batch of IAS considering her prior service length.

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