In search for activist, Sikh face, AAP zeroes in Baba Seechewal

With only three days left to submit nominations for two seats from the Rajya Sabha of Punjab, the ruling Am Adami Party (AAP) learned it had approached environmental activist Sant Balbir Singh Sichwal, better known as Baba Sichual, to be the party’s candidate.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Man, who was in Sichuan in Ludhiana on Friday, to take part in a ceremony marking the 34th anniversary of Saint Avtar Singh’s death, is also meeting with Baba Sichual.

The two seats of Rajya Sabha from Punjab will become vacant in July as the terms of MP Ambika Soni and SPD MP Balwinder Singh Bhandar approach expiry. Elections for the two seats are scheduled for June 10. The deadline for submission of nominations is May 31. With 92 MLAs in the 117-member Punjab Assembly, it is likely that the AAP will pool both seats.

Sources said the AAP had to walk behind after it nominated two party leaders in Delhi to the Rajya Sabha in March this year. The opposition had also hit the AAP for allegedly sending non-Punjabis to the upper house of parliament from the state. The party also faced criticism for not nominating a Sikh or social activist.

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Seechewal is an environmental activist who is credited with cleaning up the 160 km long Kali Bein River in Sultanpur Lodhi. He also led a river clean-up campaign in the state and helped successive government clean up Budda Nola in Ludhiana.

Speaking at Seechewal on Friday, Mann said the previous government had made Sant Seechewal a member of the Punjab Pollution Control Board but without any powers. “We will give your pen fresh ink. You make decisions, and we will carry them out,” Mann heard saying on the job.

If the AAP is able to get Baba Seechewal to agree to the Rajya Sabha, it will be able to send a message through that they have chosen the ecologist, Punjabi and Sikh.

Sources close to Papa Sichual said he has been considering the offer and will pass the decision on to CM within a day or so. He had earlier rejected a similar offer from the BJP.

Man Baba Sechwal met a team from the National Green Court (NGT) 10 days ago as well.

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