The Punjab Congress is keen to ensure that the February 23 Moga byelection is a direct fight between the party and the ruling SAD-BJP alliance.
State Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh said on Tuesday that the party would request Sanjha Morcha patron Surjit Singh Barnala to urge People's Party of Punjab (PPP) chief Manpreet Singh Badal to withdraw the latter's candidate so as to help the Congress defeat the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in the byelection. The SAD nominee is Joginderpal Jain, who had defected from the Congress in December last year.
"I will meet Barnala, Manpreet and also Joginder Dayal of the Communist Party of India (CPI) to garner their support in favour of the Congress candidate. The PPP candidate may not win the poll but he could spoil our prospects, hence giving an advantage to the Akalis," said Amarinder.
When asked if the byelection would be a referendum on poor governance in Punjab amid the deteriorating law and order situation, Amarinder, instead of giving a direct reply, said the kind of muscle and money power and other corrupt methods the Akalis used during the elections were well known.
"It may not be dubbed as a referendum, but the Congress will surely defeat the Akali candidate from Moga," he said.
Amarinder added that he had already arranged for a house in Moga and immediately after the candidate was announced, he would stay put in the constituency till the Election Commission announced the end of campaigning on February 21.
"The entire Congress leadership will camp in Moga. We know that there is a strong sentiment against the Akalis and we will infuse new confidence among the people of Punjab," said Amarinder.
The former CM said he would soon go to New Delhi to support Paramjit Singh Sarna in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) polls. "The Sarna group is in a very strong position and will give a befitting defeat to the group backed by the Badals' SAD," said Amarinder.
Slams Sukhbir on Gen Dyal issue
The Punjab Congress president criticised the managing committee of the Panchkula gurdwara for refusing to hold prayers to mark the death anniversary of 1965 war hero Lt Gen RS Dyal on December 30.
The gurdwara authorities had cited Lt Gen Dyal's role in Operation Bluestar for not allowing prayers.
"It is ridiculous. How can a secular, religious place disallow a family from performing the last rites or offering prayers in the gurdwara. SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar should wake up to reality," said Amarinder.
Amarinder also criticised SAD president and Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal for refusing to comment on the issue as the matter was "essentially religious in nature".
"This is sheer nonsense. By that logic, why are Sukhbir and other Akalis camping in New Delhi for so many days to wrest control of gurdwaras in the national capital," he wondered.