The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has finally caught the attention of Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who had earlier dismissed the Arvind Kejriwal-led party as a “media creation”.
As the AAP has not yet announced its candidate for Bathinda, Sukhbir now smells an “AAP-Congress tie-up” particularly in the key constituency that his MP wife, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, is defending against his estranged cousin and Congress-PPP candidate Manpreet Badal. “It is strange that while the AAP is claiming of not allying with the Congress at the Centre, it is hand in glove with the Congress (in Punjab). AAP has carefully selected candidates who it thought could harm the SAD, in league with the Congress,” read Sukhbir’s statement issued in Chandigarh on Monday.
The SAD chief ’s assertions contradict his earlier stance when he termed AAP a “nonentity” in Punjab. “AAP? woh kya hai? ( What is that?),” Sukhbir had once reacted to a query on AAP’s prospects in the state at a recent press briefing in the state capital.
“It seems that PPP (People’s party of Punjab) leader Manpreet Badal has become so desperate to stitch together a semblance of a fight that now he is begging AAP not to field a candidate against him or field one as per his choice,” Sukhbir further stated on Monday, and dubbed AAP candidate Bhagwant Maan’s presence in Sangrur as “a conspiracy with an aim of harming the interests of SAD nominee and senior leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa”.
Claiming that “such tactics never succeed”, he said, “A vain attempt is being made to block the tidal wave of (BJP’s PM nominee) Narendra Modi… [But] the AAP will not succeed as the people of Punjab will see through this conspiracy and completely reject the Congress.”
Taking a dig at Manpreet possibly contesting on the Congress symbol, open hand, Sukhbir further stated, “The Congress has already put up posters outside its headquarters in Bathinda in which the PPP chief Manpreet Badal’s photograph appears along with the hand symbol. You (Manpreet) cannot keep changing your stance every day, from promises to the people at Khatkar Kalan (Shaheed Bhagat Singh’s native village in Nawanshahr, where the PPP was launched by Manpreet after leaving the SAD in 2011) that he would never join the Congress, the PPP leader has, by adopting the Congress symbol, proved he is a step away from becoming a small-time Congress leader from Bathinda. His political future role as a non-entity in Punjab politics has been sealed with this act.”