The defection season is on in Punjab and the Congress on Sunday inducted former Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Yamini Gomar and Kamalji Singh Karwal, a former close associate of Ludhiana-based Bains brothers . But the fate of the sitting legislators and leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) who have switched loyalty to the Congress is yet not clear.
Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh, who has been instrumental in getting them into the party fold, on Sunday dubbed the SAD turncoats as “victims of Akali highhandedness” and declared they would be fielded from seats “where the Congress does not have winning candidates”.
Amarinder said people of Punjab were “fed up” of the ruling SAD and wanted to “uproot” it. “We will have to close the floodgates after the poll code of conduct is announced. You will see an influx of Akali Dal men into the Congress. The party will split into two,” Amarinder said. When asked if the public anger was not against the SAD MLAs and leaders who have joined the Congress, Amarinder said, “These people joining us are also victims. They have been harmed by the Badals. Look at Inderbir Bolaria (former SAD legislator). They shut down all his businesses.”
Reacting to deputy CM Sukhbir Badal’s statement that he will “jail” Amarinder, the former CM said he knew how to deal with them. “All those found guilty of drug smuggling and patronising drug mafia, whether Badals or Bikramjit Singh Majithia, will put behind bars,” he said.
Amamrinder said he had a say in deciding ticket for each seat. “The candidates are being chosen on criteria of winnability,” he said.
ON HOODA’S STATEMENT
Former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda has been quoted saying that he will campaign for the Congress in Punjab only when given an assurance on the SYL issue. “We will not offer any assurance to anyone on Punjab waters,” Capt said.
ON NAVJOT SIDHU AS DEPUTY CM
“There has been no discussion in the party on offering Navjot Sidhu the post of deputy CM. We will meet and see what role he can play. As for who will contest, the decision is up to the Sidhu couple.”
Reacting to former minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar announcing not to campaign for his son, Sukhpal Bhullar, who has been fielded by the Congress from Khemkaran, Amarinder said, “Sukhpal has been chosen to take on SAD’s Virsa Singh Valtoha. I am sure his father and brother will help him.”
“We gave the former Congress MLA four chances, he won only once. I challenge Sukhbir Badal to make him win from Barnala.”
ON KANWAR SANDHU
“Sitting MLA Jagmohan Kang has been renominated from Kharar as I need a changa banda (good person) against AAP candidate Kanwar Sandhu. I will not let Sandhu win.”