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Two Punjab Cong MLAs jump ship, join BJP

Besides the two sitting MLAs, former India cricketer Dinesh Mongia, former MP Rajdev Singh Khalsa, former MLA Gurtej Singh Ghuriana and United Christian Front of Punjab president Kamal Bakshi also joined the party.

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
Updated: December 28, 2021 9:45:18 pm
Punjab MLAs Balwinder Singh Laddi and Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa joining the BJP on December 28. (Twitter/@BSLaddiOfficial)

Ahead of the 2022 Punjab Assembly election, two Congress legislators, Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa and Balwinder Singh Laddi, Tuesday joined the BJP. Fateh Jung is the MLA from Qadian constituency and the brother of Rajya Sabha MP and senior Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa, while Laddi is the legislator from Hargobindpur.

Besides the two sitting MLAs, former India cricketer Dinesh Mongia, former MP Rajdev Singh Khalsa, former MLA Gurtej Singh Ghuriana and United Christian Front of Punjab president Kamal Bakshi joined the BJP and were welcomed into the party by state incharge and Union minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.

Shekhawat said leaders from other parties are joining the BJP as it is gaining ground in Punjab.

The joinings come a day after BJP announced its alliance with former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and former Union minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s SAD (Sanyukt) and said they will have a common manifesto for the 2022 Assembly polls.

Qadian was the only Sikh-dominated Assembly segment under Gurdaspur Parliamentary constituency from where BJP’s Sunny Deol had secured a lead of 1,687 votes during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Hargobindpura (reserved SC) Assembly segment too falls in Gurdaspur. However, the Congress candidate (Sunil Jakhar) had maintained a lead from this segment in 2019 polls.

Less than a month ago, Fateh Jung, during a rally, had told the people of his constituency, with Laddi present on the stage, that state Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu could be the next chief minister.

Fateh Jung had joined the Sidhu camp soon after Amarinder Singh’s unceremonious exit as Punjab CM. Prior to that, he was considered a confidant of Amarinder Singh who had tweaked the rules to offer a government job to the Qadian MLA’s son on compassionate ground. Fateh Jung’s son had to decline the job offer after many within Congress, including Partap Bajwa and Sidhu’s wife Navjot Kaur Sidhu, opposed the move.

Laddi too had been supporting Amarinder Singh during his protracted fight against Sidhu. Laddi, Laddi, who otherwise maintains a low profile, had hit the headlines in 2019 when he suggested during a public meeting that Partap Bajwa could soon become the next CM. “It has been two years that Amarinder Singh is running the government in state. Performance of government has remained on the down side. But you must have seen how Partap Bajwa raised the issues in the meeting held with Amarinder Singh…. these were demands of employees, farmers, payment to sugarcane farmers, labourers or issues concerning stagnation in the development works in Punjab…all the Majha MLAs watched how Partap Bajwa raised the issues. Everybody was satisfied with Partap Bajwa…”.

The rally hosted by Fateh Jung on December 2 in Qadian for Sidhu was being considered as a shot in the arm for the PCC chief who too harbours the ambition of being the CM candidate. “MLAship is a small thing and we can throw it (away) a hundred times. We need love of brothers, we need Navjot Singh Sidhu. If he becomes the CM, then it means I have become the CM, and our area has become the CM,” Fateh Jung had said from the stage. Sidhu had also indicated that Fateh Jung can again get the poll ticket from Qadian.

Four days after the rally, Partap Bajwa, on December 6, announced that he will contest the Assembly election from Qadian. Fateh Jung was quick to respond: “PPCC president has given me green signal to contest from Qadian. I am the sitting MLA from. Partap Bajwa is senior leader. He has high stature and can contest from anywhere in Punjab”.

Partap Bajwa had earlier told The Indian Express that Congress had given tickets to Fateh Jung and Laddi in 2017 from his quota. The Rajya Sabha member’s wife had contested and won from Qadian in 2012.

Seat sharing, manifesto: BJP, allies form panel

Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat Tuesday named the six members of a committee for finalising seat-sharing arrangement and drafting a common manifesto with former chief minister Amarinder Singh’s Punjab Lok Congress and former Union minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s SAD (Sanyukt) for the 2022 polls. From the BJP its state general secretaries Subhash Sharma and Dayal Sodhi will be part of the committee, while Punjab Lok Congress will be represented by General Shergill and Raninder Singh Tikka and the SAD (Sanyukt) by Justice Nirmal Singh and Parminder Singh Dhindsa.

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