In the year-old farm agitation on the Delhi border, newly-sworn-in Cabinet Minister Dr Balbir Singh, an eye specialist, participated extensively.
He was appointed to the Cabinet based on his loyalty to the Aam Aadmi Party, sources said.
During his tenure as an AAP MP, Dr Balbir was considered a close aide of Dr Dharamvira Gandhi.
As a result of his support for “dissenters” Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, Dr Gandhi was suspended from the party in 2015. Dr Gandhi led one faction of AAP volunteers in Patiala, and Dr Balbir led the other, who had played a crucial role in Dr Gandhi’s win and backed Kejriwal’s national campaign.
According to a senior AAP leader, “Dr Balbir stood by the party even after Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur was expelled. The stance he took did not go unnoticed, and his education helped him advance.”
With AAP, Dr Balbir entered the political arena for the first time after participating in the JP Movement and Anna Hazare Andolan.
After Capt Amarinder Singh resigned as an MLA to contest against Arun Jaitley from Amritsar in the 2014 General Elections, Dr Balbir was the front-runner. He was, however, denied a ticket.
After Kejriwal himself announced his candidacy for the high-profile Patiala (Urban) Assembly seat against Capt Amarinder Singh in 2016, his status soared. Due to the fact that it was a Congress citadel, Dr Balbir lost by 52,407 votes.
The AAP elevated Dr Balbir to the position of co-president in 2018. As he defeated Mohit Mohindra, son of former minister Brahm Mohindra, in 2022, he recorded the highest margin in the district.
Moreover, the AAP MLA was instrumental in implementing the “single-window system”, in which residents apprised him of their concerns.
In a 2011 assault case, Dr Balbir and three others, including his wife and son, were sentenced to three years in prison. Bail was granted to all later.