Pro-Khalistan leader Simranjit Singh Mann’s victory in by-poll for Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency has sounded alarm bells in Punjab with main Opposition party, Congress, expressing concern over the victory of a known radical Sikh leader.
Mann, 77, is already making his agenda clear by giving credit for his victory to Khalistani militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and vowing to raise the issues of “Indian Army’s atrocities in Kashmir” in Parliament.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief, who defeated the ruling Aam Aadmi Party candidate by about 5800 votes, said he would also flag the “killing of tribal people in Bihar and Chhattisgarh calling them Naxalites”.
A former Indian Police Service officer, Mann has been vocal about the demand for separate Sikh state. SAD(A) office secretary Harbir Singh Sandhu said Mann has always supported the demand for an independent Sikh state and his victory in the Sangrur bypoll is the mandate of the people in Punjab in favour of his ideology.
Though Mann’s victory in the constituency twice represented by the Punjab Chief Minister Bahgwant Mann is being attributed to number of factors including unhappiness with the state government, anger over the killing of popular Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala after his security was curtailed and the multi-cornered contest, Mann’s victory is still being seen as a boost to the supporters of the Khalistan movement.
Mann’s victory has come at a time when pro-Khalistan elements are known to be making efforts to create disturbance in Punjab in particular. Canada-based Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) chief Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is at the forefront of reviving the movement for Khalistan with support from Pakistan.
Expressing concern over Mann’s election, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said democracy lost in Sangrur. “Punjab can’t be pushed back in the blind alley of violence and terrorism. If what is reported is true, Democracy lost today in Sangrur,” tweeted Surjewala.
Another Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill said result of Sangrur bypolls must serve as an alarm bell for all the stakeholders of Punjab. Congress’ Member of Parliament from Ludhiana, Ravneet Singh Bittu said Mann’s ideology has proven toxic for Punjab and the country in the past. “His Khalistani agenda is a threat to the peace and integrity of Punjab and country,” he tweeted.
The Sangrur Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after the Chief Minister Bhagwant ann contested and won from Dhuri Assembly segment in the 2022 Assembly elections. Mann, the incumbent chief minister, had won from Sangrur in 2014 and 2019.
The by-poll witnessed a low turnout of 45.30 per cent as against 72.44 per cent polling in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections and 76.71 per cent in 2014 polls.