Admitting that the presence of People's Party of Punjab (PPP) candidate would harm Congress' prospects in the Moga bypoll, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Amarinder Singh claimed that PPP president Manpreet Badal was responsible for the failure of a proposal to field a joint candidate. He also claimed that Manpreet did not honour his word.
"It was Manpreet, who proposed that the PPP and the Congress should field a joint candidate for the Moga bypoll. However, later he organised a separate rally and also announced a PPP candidate for Moga," Amarinder told HT on sidelines of the 33rd death anniversary of master Gurbanta Singh, father of Congress leaders Choudhary Jagjit Singh and Choudhary Santokh Singh.
Captain added that he was surprised at Manpreet's U-turn.
"It seems that he (Manpreet) is not interested in a political tie-up with the Congress, but this is not the way to do it."
He claimed that he had held a long meeting with Manpreet to discuss the proposed poll alliance. On whether he thought that the PPP chief had betrayed the Congress, he evaded a direct reply.
"We might call the situation, a betrayal or a change of mind, depending on our perspective. However, one thing is clear. This is no way to deal with a national party." However, Manpreet has maintained that he had never met Amarinder Singh on the issue of poll alliance.
Captain added that Moga's voters were angry with Joginder Pal Jain for switching his political loyalty for personal gain.
On whether the outcome of the Moga bypoll will serve as a 'referendum' on the SAD-BJP government, Amarinder said that a bypoll could be termed a referendum, as ruling parties are known to use money and muscle power, apart from government machinery in such polls.
"Non-performance of the state government, Jain's betrayal of the people's mandate and the deteriorating law & order situation are major election issues."
He added that the process of selection of candidates for Lok Sabha polls will begin soon as it had been conveyed to the national high command at the party conference in Jaipur that delay could be costly and counterproductive.