CHANDIGARH: Former Punjab minister Anil Joshi on Friday joined the Shiromani Akali Dal in the presence of party president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who declared him the candidate from the Amritsar North Assembly seat in the next year’s elections.

Joshi was also appointed the senior vice-president of the party.

Raj Kumar Gupta was announced the Akali Dal candidate from the Sujanpur seat in Pathankot.

Several other BJP leaders also joined the SAD.

Prominent among them were former Dasuya MLA Sukhjit Kaur, former Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha state chief Mohit Gupta and ex-deputy mayor of Ludhiana R D Sharma.

Joshi was expelled last month by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for six years for his “anti-party” activities.

Joshi had criticised the party’s state and central leadership for “mishandling” the farmers’ agitation against the Union government’s contention agriculture laws.

The former BJP leader has been blaming the party’s state leadership for not giving a correct feedback to the Centre on the farm laws.

Joshi had remained legislator from the Amritsar North seat in 2007 and 2012.

He faced defeat in the 2017 Assembly polls.

About the candidature of Gupta and Joshi, Badal said the decision has been taken with the consent of the alliance partner BSP.

According to the seat sharing arrangement between the SAD and the BSP, the latter would field its candidates from Sujanpur and Jalandhar North seats.

According to the alliance, the BSP will contest 20 of the 117 Assembly seats and the rest will be contested by the Akali Dal.

Badal said the joining of Joshi and other leaders sent a clear message to those trying to create insecurity amongst people in urban areas.

He said the SAD is committed to its vision of peace and communal harmony.

Asserting that Joshi is a courageous leader who had always done his utmost for his constituency as well as the holy city of Amritsar, Badal announced that Joshi had been appointed senior vice-president of the party.

Joshi said he was forced to quit a party which he had nourished because the BJP “turned a blind eye” to the genuine demands of farmers.

“Even our state leaders misled the central leadership,” he alleged.

Joshi said he had decided to join the SAD because it was the lone party which stood for regional aspirations.

“The Congress Party does not understand the pain of Punjabis while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) only wants yes men as legislators whom it controls by remote from Delhi,” he said.