For the first time in 23 years, Simranjit Singh Mann has recorded an electoral victory. It’s not just any old victory either, it’s the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat. He was last elected to that seat in 1999.
The seat was previously held by the Aam Aadmi Party’s Gurmail Singh, whom Mann beat by 5,822 votes. For AAP, the loss signals the final nail in the coffin, as it has now lost all representation in the Lok Sabha.
Before Mann found himself politicking in the halls of the Lok Sabha, he was a part of the Indian Police Service and served in Punjab. Throughout his career in the IPS he held various posts including Assistant Superintendent of Ludhiana Senior Superintendent of Ferozepur, Deputy Director of Vigilance Bureau in Chandigarh as well as the Commandant of Punjab Armed Police. Towards the end of his time with the police, he was the Group Commandant of the Central Industrial Security Force, Mumbai.
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He later resigned from the IPS in the aftermath of Operation Bluestar in 1984 to protest the anti-Sikh riots that swept the country, the same year his political aspirations led him to pursue a life in politics. Since his entry into politics, Mann won the Tarn Taran constituency seat in 1989, followed by a victory at Sangrur in 1999. The following years would turn out to be not great for the leader as he recorded losses for the Lok Sabha elections in 1996, 1998, 2004, 2009 and finally in 2019. When he made the transition to focusing on Punjab politics, he didn’t do well either, going on a losing streak from 1997, all the way up till 2022.
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Mann has made no secret of his desire for a separate Khalistan state for Sikhs, given that he leads the pro-Khalistan party, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar). So much so, that every year, on the anniversary of Operation Bluestar him and his supporters gather at the Golden Temple in Amritsar calling for a Sikh state. After his victory in the by-polls last week, Mann told party workers that it was a victory for them and the “teachings of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale,” who was a religious leader who campaigned for a separate Sikh state.