The Congress and Manpreet Singh Badal’s People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) formally announced an alliance Tuesday. The latter’s allies so far, the CPI, the CPM and the SAD (Longowal), stayed away from the “ceremony” amid signs of an imminent breakup.
Congress state chief Partap Bajwa, who has been instrumental in forging the alliance, announced Manpreet will take on CM Parkash Singh Badal’s daughter-in-law and sitting MP from Bathinda Harsimrat Badal in the ensuing LS elections.
Calling it a “long-term” alliance, Bajwa said the Congress had joined hands with Manpreet not only for the LS elections but “for a long time to come” to take on the SAD-BJP alliance.
Manpreet said he would contest the election on the PPP’s symbol, a kite, though the Congress is understood to have offered him its symbol.
An estranged nephew of the Punjab chief minister, Manpreet had contested on an SAD ticket thrice and won each time. He was the youngest finance minister of the state before he split from the SAD and floated the PPP three years back. He has contested from two seats since then and lost.
Having given Bathinda to Manpreet, the Congress will contest the remaining 12 seats, Bajwa said. “We are waiting for the CPI to decide. If they come along with us, we will leave Faridkot to them,” said Bajwa.
Manpreet said the national leadership of the CPI has left this decision to its state leaders. “They will give us a decision very soon. We could not wait for their consent because it was getting late and we had to make an announcement to start campaigning,” said Manpreet.
The PPP and its three allies had come together to form a “Sanjha Morcha” before the 2012 assembly elections, and failed to win a seat.
The pact with the Congress was planned by Manpreet, who had thought of taking the other constituents along. The CPM ruled itself out immediately. The CPI showed signs of being interested and Manpreet even succeeded in getting the Congress to leave the Faridkot seat for that party, but factions within are against the pact.
“I hope we can stay intact. We are birds of the same feather. Maybe we can get together after the election,” said Manpreet.
“We will get together after the elections. If one constituent has aligned with a national party, it does not mean our front in the state has met a dead end,” said Dr Joginder Dyal, state chief of CPI.
Baldev Mann of the SAD (Longowal), floated by former Tamil Nadu governor Surjit Singh Barnala, said they are hopeful of remaining together.