Playing for high stakes ahead of the 2017 assembly elections in Punjab, two major claimants, the grand old Congress and the new entrant, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), are busy poaching leading politicians in the state. The ruling combine, SAD-BJP has stayed away from the game so far.
While the election is still a year away, leaders of both political parties are wooing leaders of all shades. At times, both have been out to woo the same person. For instance, both Congress and AAP were working on comedian and actor, Gurpreet Singh Ghuggi who finally joined AAP on Wednesday, leaving the Congress high and dry.
Ghuggi had a meeting with state Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh a few days ago. The National organisational building head of AAP, Durgesh Pathak was also persuading Ghuggi to join his party and he finally succeeded.
Congress and AAP are not impressed by each others’ “catches”. The former claims there is a vacuum of leadership in the AAP and more “opportunists” would join them. AAP claims it is the most sought after party in Punjab and it will continue to attract more leaders.
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Both parties are now working on Gurpreet Singh Bhatti, general secretary of People’s Party, an outfit of Manpreet Singh Badal, former finance minister of Punjab and estranged nephew of Chief Minister Partap Singh Badal. Manpreet has since merged his party with the Congress.
Bhatti is meeting Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal on Thursday to seek clarifications on the party’s policy on farming and the economic crisis. He has already met Amarinder. He was to have joined the Congress alongwith Manpreet but backed out at the last minute.
Both parties are also working on Ludhiana’s two Independent MLAs, the siblings Balwinder Singh Bains and Simarjit Singh Bains. They have met Amarinder as well as AAP leaders.
The game was started by AAP. Soon after the Punjab Congress president, Capt Amarinder Singh took over the reins of the party in December 2015, AAP poached six of its leaders. They include ex-MLA, Sukhpal Khaira, followed by ex-MLA Jagtar Singh Rajla from Samana, Kuldip Dhaliwal from Amritsar and Lakhbir Singh Rai from Fatehgarh Sahib and Aman Arora from Sunam.