The People's Party of Punjab (PPP) got a shot in the arm on Tuesday when Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Didar Singh Bhatti joined the party with his supporters during a rally in the Sirhind grain market.
Party chief Manpreet Badal, who administered the oath of PPP membership to Bhatti and his supporters, announced that the Sirhind MLA would contest the assembly elections on the PPP ticket from the Fatehgarh Sahib constituency.
Bhatti defected after the SAD named senior party leader Prem Singh Chandumajra as the candidate from Fatehgarh Sahib.
Office-bearers of the SAD from Sirhind, municipal councillors, block development committee members, more than 20 sarpanches, cooperative societies and market committee chairmen also joined the PPP.
Welcoming Bhatti into the PPP fold, Manpreet said other Akali leaders were also keen to join his party.
"You will witness our growing strength in the coming days. The party doors are open to SAD and Congress leaders with acceptability and integrity," Manpreet said.
Bhatti alleged that deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal and Youth Akali Dal chief Bikramjit Singh Majithia were jeopardising the SAD's prospects in the assembly polls by not giving the ticket to deserving candidates.
In a lighter vein, he said, "It seems Parkash Singh Badal wants to see Manpreet as the chief minister. That's why he has given the task of ticket allotment to Sukhbir and Majithia."
He claimed that Chandumajra was set to lose the elections again.
Meanwhile, in an effort to curb dissidence in the PPP over Bhatti's candidature, Manpreet named former ticket probable Avtar Singh Makhan as the party vice-president.