Barnala-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) on Saturday threw its weight behind the Congress to see the defeat of the ruling Badals in Punjab.
At a joint press conference here, Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa introduced SAD (Longowal) chief Surjit Singh Barnala as a man with secular credentials whose support would give a boost to the Congress in curbing the “communal combo” of the ruling SAD-BJP.
The SAD (Longowal) has extended unconditional support to the Congress for the Lok Sabha polls, party general secretary Baldev Mann clarified, while ruling out to contest any seat in the state.
Bajwa said the Congress would benefit most in Sangrur, from where it had fielded sitting MP Vijay Inder Singla, who was also present on the occasion. Barnala’s son Gaganjit Singh Barnala had earlier been aspiring to contest from Sangrur as part of the erstwhile PPP-led Sanjha Morcha.
Bajwa said the Congress had confined the focus of the Badals to Bathinda and Amritsar only as it had fielded its dark horse Capt Amarinder Singh in Amritsar and allied with Manpreet Badal of the PPP in Bathinda.
Bajwa said Amarinder was not reluctant to contest the Lok Sabha elections, but was waiting for the BJP to announce its best bet Arun Jaitley from Amritsar.
The alliance (with PPP and SAD-Longowal) is based on the ideology to curb the communal forces like the BJP and the SAD that were harmful for the state, the PPCC chief said.
On replacing Ravneet Bittu with Ambika Soni in Anandpur Sahib, Bajwa maintained that he was not taken into confidence by the party high command.
SAD dubs Barnala a Congress stooge
SAD secretary general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa reacted sharply to the Barnala’s support to the Congress, dubbing him a Congress stooge.
“Barnala has finally shown his true colours and proved that he has all along been a Congress stooge who has bartered the interests of the Panth and the state for his selfish interests,” Dhindsa said.
He said it was Barnala’s attempt to create a political future for his family.
He also termed Barnala’s Akali faction as a “B team of the Congress”.