In a major jolt to the ruling Akali Dal, two of its sitting legislators Mahesh Inder Singh and Rajwinder Kaur Bhagike on Tuesday joined the Congress in the presence of PCC chief Amarinder Singh in New Delhi. While Mahesh Inder Singh represents the Baghapurana Assembly seat, Rajwinder Kaur is the sitting MLA from Nihal Singh Wala constituency. Welcoming them into the party fold, Amarinder said this will help strengthen the Congress party ahead of the upcoming polls. He reiterated that the exodus of leaders and workers from SAD and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would further increase as the elections drew closer, especially after the imposition of the Code of Conduct in Punjab.
“As per the tradition, there is no commitment in their joining the Congress. They have joined unconditionally. I welcome them into the Congress fold and I hope their joining will strengthen the party further,” he said. Expressing their disillusionment and anger with the Akali leadership, the sitting MLAs said they had always been loyal to the party but could not allow themselves to be slaves to the Badals.
Throwing his weight behind Amarinder, Mahesh Inder Singh claimed that he was the only credible face. He said that he quit the party as his ticket was cut a few months ago and the ruling dispensation sent police to his residence to intimidate him. “We can be their loyalists but not slaves. The insult given to me by sending police at my residence has hit me. They think they can terrorise me. I have quit the Akali Dal not for being denied a party ticket but out of humiliation.
“I have not come here to contest as I have joined the Congress unconditionally. The Akalis have not performed and the AAP stands isolated. They had their time when four of their MPs won, but not any more,” Singh said. Besides welcoming Rajinder Kaur and Mahesh Inder Singh, Amarinder also welcomed SAD leader Pritam Singh Kotbhai and social activist from Phillaur Ajay Sharma, into the Congress fold. Kotbhai had lost narrowly to the Congress candidate in the last election.