In a blow to the Congress, former assembly deputy speaker and senior Congress leader Prof Darbari Lal joined the BJP here on Sunday evening. The three-time MLA was welcomed into the BJP fold by Amritsar candidate Arun Jaitley and state party chief Kamal Sharma.
The development is being seen as a boost to the SAD-BJP that is fighting a close contest with Congress rival Capt Amarinder Singh.
Lal was spotted with Amarinder at a function on Sunday morning; he was also present in the road show organised to welcome Amarinder.
Addressing a press conference along with Jaitley, Lal said, “I joined the Congress 50 years ago and remained MLA thrice besides being the deputy speaker in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
Today, I decided to join the BJP in national interest. I can see the BJP forming the government as the Congress lags behind. Today, the country needs a stable and strong government and that is why I have joined the BJP.”
Lal, who was denied the ticket by the party in the 2012 assembly polls from Amritsar (central), said, “I have good ties with Jaitley’s family and the vision this man carries, he must become the Amritsar MP and people must support him. I have not come here because of any allurement or ambition.”
Lal, who had alleged that the Congress had sold tickets in the 2012 polls, said, “Capt saab was a reluctant candidate. Today, even if he wins, he would sit in opposition in Parliament and that would not benefit Amritsar. Moreover, Capt saab hardly went to the Vidhan Sabha, what would he do in Parliament?”
Welcoming Lal into the party, Jaitley and Sharma said, “Lal is a senior and respected leader in Punjab politics. His joining the BJP will give us immense strength. We never thought we would be in the same party some day.”
Revenue minister Bikram Majithia, with whom Lal entered the venue of the press conference, said, “Such a senior leader joining the BJP shows the resentment in the Congress.
Now, the Congress will make all sorts of allegations or term Lal a spent force, but the reality is that the Congress leaders tried hard to stop him.”