With a view to garnering support from the electorate of Ludhiana for SAD-BJP candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali at a well-attended rally organised here on Friday, SAD president and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal acknowledged the young Akali contender as the best bet from Ludhiana.
The rally was followed by the formal inauguration of Ayali’s office on Sat Paul Mittal Road.
Sukhbir said Ayali was successful in getting funds as Zila Parishad chairman from the Centre and now was his chance to get more as MP for Ludhiana, adding, “Asli khazana taan Dilli wich hai, te hun hath utthe paana hai taaki trolley bhar bhar ke laike a sakiye (Now we have to reach Delhi where the real treasure is, so that Manpreet is able to get truckloads from there for the development of Ludhiana).”
The SAD president criticised Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his “senseless” speeches. “Rahul Gandhi taan hun Congress da bhog paa ke, antim ardas kar ke hi rahuga (Rahul will be elemental in eliminating the Congress from the country).”
Citing the election surveys, the deputy chief minister said the Congress would not get more than 65 seats in the polls.
With the sitting Congress MP Manish Tewari, lawyer HS Phoolka of Aam Aadmi Party and independent member of legislative assembly ( MLA) Simarjit Singh Bains in the fray, Ludhiana seat is a four-cornered contest.
Sukhbir criticised the other candidates but exercised caution when it came to Phoolka saying, “They are wasting their time, so exercise your right to vote after thinking twice.”
When asked to comment on Manpreet Badal joining hands with the Congress, Sukhbir said, “Manpreet is lame at the moment and by joining hands with the Congress he has taken support of a broken stick.”
The Youth Akali Dal workers raised slogans in Ayali’s favour as he started listing his achievements. Ayali promised that he would make Ludhiana a permanent seat of the SAD-BJP unlike Tewari who had “run away from the contest fearing defeat”.