In a setback to the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Manpreet Kaur Dolly, daughter of late Akali stalwart Capt Kanwaljit Singh, on Tuesday joined the Congress in the presence of Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh, minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, along with hundreds of her supporters and Akali workers.
Welcoming her into the Congress fold, Amarinder and Preneet said Dolly had inherited the political legacy of her father, who was a mass leader and a seasoned Akali politician. They said Dolly had a great future in the Congress as she was well-qualified, competent and hardworking.
Preneet, who played a key role in roping in Dolly and brought her along from New Delhi on a flight, said Dolly had contested the 2012 assembly elections as an independent candidate from the Dera Bassi constituency and polled more than 10,000 votes, which was no mean feat.
In reply to a question, Amarinder said the Congress had not promised Dolly anything before inducting her into the party. "She is an able leader and will establish herself in the party with her own ability," he added.
Asked what made her join the Congress, especially when her father had remained a hardcore Akali leader all his life, Dolly said she liked and respected the Congress' policies and had decided to join the party "long ago".
She said the Congress worked in a democratic manner and recognised the contribution of women in particular.
Referring to Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, she said it was unfortunate that he had betrayed her trust in the SAD.
Assuring the party leadership that she would work hard and come up to their expectations, Dolly said she would ensure that Preneet, sitting MP from Patiala, got a big lead from the Dera Bassi segment in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
Dolly's father, Capt Kanwaljit, had died in a car accident in 2009. At that time, his son, Jasjit Singh Bunny, had revolted against the SAD and resigned. However, he was later won over by the Akali leadership. Dolly has been working hard to nurture her father's Banur assembly segment even after it ceased to exist due to delimitation.
Dolly dismissed speculation that her decision to join the Congress would create a rift in her family. "It's the democratic right of every individual to take his or her own independent decision," she said.