People's Party of Punjab (PPP) president Manpreet Badal on Friday released an audio CD purportedly carrying recordings that show how deputy chief minister and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Badal "has been trying to buy the loyalties of PPP leaders". The SAD, Manpreet alleged, was
planning to either get the PPP leaders to shift allegiance to the SAD, or "infiltrate" Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement.
The CD carries what is alleged to be a conversation between PPP rebel Arunjot Singh Sodhi and Jagdeep Singh, Ludhiana district president of the PPP. Sodhi purportedly offered Jagdeep money to engineer mass defection from the PPP, and also told him how Manpreet's phones are being tapped. Jagdeep, who was with Manpreet as he released the CD on Friday, recorded the conversations in the past 10 days. "After Jagdeep told me that Sodhi had offered him money, I asked him to play bluff to get Sodhi to sing," Manpreet said.
Sodhi, who was ousted from the PPP after he alleged bungling of party fund by Manpreet, purportedly told Jagdeep that he had discussed the defection strategy with Sukhbir in a meeting facilitated by fellow PPP deserter Charanjit Singh Brar. Charanjit had remained an officer on special duty (OSD) with Sukhbir, then joined Manpreet's PPP for a while before shifting his loyalties back to the SAD.
Sodhi allegedly told Charanjit to ask Sukhbir whether the PPP's deserters would be paid money or be given party posts in the SAD. Then, Charanjit took him to "Sukhbir's drawing room in Delhi" where they "discussed the strategy for about half an hour", as per the recordings. "Sodhi told me a couple of days ago that he was to meet Sukhbir again next week," Jagdeep said.
"This CD exposes how Sodhi planned to hijack Anna's movement, as it is largely against the Congress, for the SAD's benefit before the Lok Sabha elections," Manpreet said. Hazare has plans to tour Punjab in March.
"Such tricks are being used to woo PPP leaders for the past two years," Manpreet alleged.
In the CD, there is a specific comment about PPP leaders Abhay Sandhu and Bharat Bhushan Thapar (kin of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev, respectively), in which Sodhi purportedly said, "Oh tan panj-panj lakh rupaye di maar hann (Those two can be bought for Rs. 5 lakh each)."
Also during the alleged conversation, Sodhi claimed that even if Manpreet kept changing phone numbers, "sensors installed in Chandigarh's Sector 3 and at Badal village recognise and record his voice".
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