Uncertainty over Sukhbir Badal’s future as deputy chief minister

June 8th, 2009 - 4:20 pm ICT by IANS  

By Jaideep Sarin and Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, June 8 (IANS) Less than five months after he was sworn in, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal faces an uncertain future in the government headed by his father and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Sukhbir Badal, 46, sworn in Jan 21, has until July 21 to get elected to the Punjab assembly under electoral law. There are still no indications of any by-election that he is likely to contest.

Under the Representation of the People Act, any person holding a public office has to get elected within six months of being sworn in if he is not already a legislator. If that does not happen, he has to resign.

The only by-election Punjab has scheduled in the coming days is for the Nurmahal assembly seat in Jalandhar district. That is to be held June 12.

The ruling Akali Dal, which has Sukhbir Badal as its president, has already fielded a candidate for this election.

Punjab chief electoral officer Kusumjit Sidhu told IANS: “There is no other by-election in Punjab before July 21.”

But the Akali Dal and the government are not seemingly worried or showing concern over Sukhbir Badal’s continuation in the government.

“Why should he resign (from the government)? There is still a lot of time. There will be an election. The Election Commission can announce dates any time. He will not resign,” Punjab government’s media adviser Harcharan Bains told IANS.

Sources in the Akali Dal and the government said that the Election Commission had been approached to announce dates for a couple of assembly by-elections to be held.

One seat that fell vacant recently is Banur, near Chandigarh. The incumbent Akali Dal legislator and the state’s former cooperation minister Kanwaljit Singh died in a road accident in April this year.

The Jalalabad assembly seat in Ferozepur district fell vacant after its Akali Dal legislator, Sher Singh Ghubaiya, got elected to the Lok Sabha from Ferozepur.

Badal junior can contest any of these seats or opt for another seat if some legislator offers to resign to make way for him.

Even his entry into Badal senior’s government earlier this year came about only when his brother-in-law and legislator Bikram Singh Majithia resigned from his post as cabinet minister.

Sukhbir Badal now holds the home department, sports and other portfolios. He was an MP from Faridkot when he became deputy chief minister. He did not contest the May Lok Sabha polls.

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