In a major blow to Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP),close associates of party president Manpreet Singh Badal joined the Congress on Sunday in the presence of PPCC chief Captain Amarinder Singh. They included Manpreets cousin Jagbir Singh Brar,Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon (both former MLAs) and Sukhjit Singh Kaka Lohgarh (SGPC member from Dharamkot).
Brar and Dhillon,former Akali MLAs from Jalandhar (Cantonment) and Faridkot,are the founding members of the PPP.
While this leaves Manpreet with only one supporter comedian Bhagwant Mann it is a big gain for the Congress.
This is not only a setback to the PPP,but the Sanjha Morcha as well. Its constituent SAD (Longowal) is on the verge of becoming defunct with its two prominent members also approaching the Congress. Gaganjit Singh Barnala had approached us a few days ago. We told him that he should merge SAD (Longowal) with our party. But he never got back, said party in-charge Thakur Gulchain Singh Charak.
In a function held on Sunday to welcome the leaders,Amarinder claimed that this was just the beginning and several more people,particularly from SAD and BJP,may join the party. Not ruling out Assembly tickets for Brar and Dhillon,he said: If they want they can apply. There is process in the party first the state election committee and then the screening committee finalises the tickets.
Alleging that the Akali Dal was like a family-run business,Brar and Dhillon claimed that the PPP led by Manpreet was proving to be no different. Manpreets wife and her brother were calling the shots in the party,alleged Dhillon.
Claiming that PPP was hand-in-glove with SAD,Dhillon said: When we asked him that in case there is a hung Assembly,should we resign if elected or support some party,he said that while we cannot support the Congress,we also cannot say no to SAD. Though we could manage to get Manpreet out of Akali Dal,we could not manage to get Badal out of Manpreet, he said while adding that the PPP chief still had a soft corner for his uncle and it will not be surprising if he returns to SAD.
Brar,on the other hand,levelled allegations of financial misappropriation against Manpreet. Maintaining that there was no transparency in the maintenance of accounts,he spoke of Manpreets foreign trip where he had collected at least $ 50,000,but no one knows where the money went.
Kaka Lohgarh,who recently won the SGPC elections from Dharamkot as an Independent candidate,said that he had always served the SAD but found that the party was serving the interest of only a select few.
Meanwhile,Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal claimed that Brar and Dhillon had first approached SAD.
Brar demanded a ticket from Muktsar and Dhillion from Kotkapura. But we said no to them so they went to the Congress. The PPP is a sinking ship and now,everybody will leave.