Two-time Congress MLA Joginder Pal Jain did some plain speaking with party general secretary Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Tuesday before quitting the party and joining the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Wednesday.
"I was called to meet Rahul in Delhi. During our half-an-hour meeting, I clearly told him about the style of functioning of the Congress in Punjab and how infighting has already cost the party dear in the assembly polls. I also told him that the party would suffer the same fate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls," Jain told Hindustan Times.
Jain said Rahul asked him to reconsider his decision, but he told him that it was too late. "I told Rahul that I had already given my word to the senior leadership of the SAD and all modalities for my induction were complete," said Jain.
During the meeting, Jain told Rahul that he had handed over a file to his (Rahul's) close political aide Kanishka Singh. "In the file, I had given details of the Congress style of functioning in Punjab and how the party is being ruined by certain vested interests. But perhaps Rahul was never able to go through the file," he said.
Jain, who was considered to be a close confidant of Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh, claimed that no serious effort was made by the state leadership to address his grievances. "I am not a politician. I am a simple businessman. When some of the Congress leaders were getting false cases registered against me, no one came to my rescue," said Jain.
Jain revealed that Congress MLA Arvind Khanna was in touch with him and even asked him to meet Amarinder in a five-star hotel in Delhi. "I said I had no objection in meeting anyone. However, the meeting never materialised. I don't know why," said Jain.
Setback for Cong in Malwa
Jain's defection is another setback for the beleaguered Punjab Congress. Among the seven assembly segments falling in Faridkot and Moga districts, the Congress had won only the Moga seat in the January 30 polls, thanks to Jain.
Jain, who was brought into the Congress fold by late chief minister Beant Singh in 1994, had defeated senior Akali leader Tota Singh by 1,294 votes in 2007 and former Punjab DGP Paramdeep Singh Gill by 4,625 votes in 2012.
Jain has been the longest serving improvement trust chairman in Punjab. When chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had dissolved all improvement trusts in the state in 1997, Jain had somehow managed to continue.
When the Congress lost the Faridkot parliamentary seat in 2009 to the SAD, Moga was the only assembly segment from where the party acquired a lead in terms of votes.
By bringing Jain into the SAD fold, Sukhbir Singh Badal has not only managed to give a jolt to the Congress in Malwa but also continued with his social engineering programme by bringing non-Sikh faces into the Panthic fold.
After winning the assembly polls, Sukhbir has brought former Congress MLA from Fatehgarh Sahib Harbans Lal, Mangat Rai Bansal from Maur, Naresh Kumar Kataria from Zira and now Jain from Moga into the Akali party.
How parties stand in House
Total seats 117
SAD 56 MLAs and support of 2 associate MLAs
Congress 45 MLAs and support of one associate member
BJP 12 MLAs