The shocking defeat of Congress in recent assembly elections was due to three factors of rebels, unexpected rise of BSP in Doaba region and atta-daal scheme of the outgoing government, Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh said on Monday.
Addressing a press conference here at Punjab Congress Bhawan while announcing high command's decision to appoint Sunil Jakhar as Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, the PPCC chief strongly refuted allegation that due efforts were not made to coax rebels to withdraw from the fray.
He asserted that not only he but also a high-powered committee under party general secretary BK Hariprasad made all efforts to convince the rebels to withdraw.
According to him, presence of rebels ruined the chances of Congress candidates in at least 11 constituencies, while massive votes polled by the BSP in Doaba region as compared to 2007 elections and the 'atta-daal scheme' damaged his party."Atta-daal cost us a great deal, even as the Congress at the Centre is providing the atta. But it was exploited by the Akalis to their own advantage," he said.
"Nobody could anticipate the electoral damage by the BSP and the atta-daal scheme," the former chief minister added.
He admitted delay in ticket distribution was another factor that contributed to defeat and that the Congress should work on this problem and allot tickets earlier.
Capt Amarinder said that despite limited time, 60 of the 81 rebels who had filed nomination papers were made to withdraw. Only 21 were left in the field.
Besides, he added, by the time the Congress leadership could reach out to them, they had already been paid huge money by Shiromani Akali Dal to ensure that they stayed in the contest.
Maintaining that the BSP had really done immense damage to the party in the Doaba region, he pointed out at several seats like Phillaur, Kartarpur, Adampur and Phagwara, BSP vote share went up substantially as compared to 2007 elections and that damaged the Congress prospects in the region.
He said that the Akali-BJP alliance took the advantage of the welfare schemes of the Congress-led UPA government. "Punjab added 7 lakh more below poverty line families to the already existing 13 lakh families and it was all funded by the government of India," he pointed out.
"Although the alliance won 12 seats more than the Congress, their total vote share is only 0.8% more than us," he pointed out, adding the People's Party of Punjab had taken away more votes from the Akalis than the Congress.
Newly appointed CLP leader Sunil Jakhar, former CM and outgoing CLP leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, PCC vice-presidents Lal Singh and Rana Sodhi and general secretaries Arvind Khanna and Rana Gurjit were also present at the press conference.