Close on the heels of former MP Jagmeet Singh Brar ending his 35-year association with the Congress and looking set to join the BJP, two former MLAs from the Malwa region, Jagmeet's brother Ripjit Brar and Vijay Sathi, made their resignations formal at a press meet here along with a number of others.
Ripjit remained Kotkapura MLA from 2007-2012 but failed to get re-elected, while Sathi, who unsuccessfully contested the Moga bypoll in 2013, had represented Moga from 1992-97. In an exercise aimed at showing the purported might of Jagmeet before he joins the BJP, others who resigned include Gurdas Girdhar, former district Congress committee (DCC) president of Muktsar; Manjit Singh Jalbuti, former All-India Congress Committee (AICC) member; Manjit Singh Ghasitpur, who contested the 2007 poll on Congress ticket from Tarn Taran; Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) secretary Ranbir Singh from Talwandi Sabo; Youth Congress' Ferozepur general secretary Amritpal Singh, and some others from Malwa region.
All of them, after addressing their resignation to AICC president Sonia Gandhi, lamented that the Congress had "turned from a party of patriots to a party of sycophants". Jagmeet too had questioned the Gandhis' leadership after the Lok Sabha defeat, and had been suspended from the party thereafter. The leaders criticised PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa and Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh for "ignoring grassroots workers and promoting moneyed leaders".
PRAISE FOR MODI
On their future course of action, all the leaders said they would follow Jagmeet; but they showered praises on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and termed the BJP - which remains in a ruling pact with the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab - as the party "that can bring the state out of the financial, social crisis and the drug menace". "People are fed up with both the Congress and the Akalis. Punjabis are seeing a new hope in Modi," said Sathi.
On Thursday, Jagmeet's have planned 35 press conferences across the state where leaders would give resignations in his favour.
Though Jagmeet has not won an election in a long time, the BJP sees the Sikh leader's switch as a boost to its prospects in Malwa, particularly the SAD strongholds in Muktsar and Faridkot that are his home turf. It believes he and his camp would help the party especially in the event that it goes it alone in the assembly polls due in 2017 on the back of its historic Lok Sabha success; given that its ties with the SAD are getting frostier by the day.
Brar in Delhi
Jagmeet Brar met the top brass of the BJP Delhi on Wednesday, sources said. He is likely to join the saffron party before party chief Amit Shah's visit to Amritsar for the January 22 rally, where the rest of his camp would join.