In a jolt to Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh, his loyalist and former Samana legislator Jagtar Singh Rajla has quit the party and prepared to join the AAP during Shaheedi Jor Mela on Sunday in Fatehgarh Sahib.
Rajla had joined the Congress in 2009 by moving over from the Shiromani Akali Dal, which he had represented in the assembly from 1997 to 2002. He claims that Amarinder, for whom he had joined the Congress, had ignored him. After Sukhpal Singh Khaira, he is the second prominent leader this week to desert the Congress for the Aam Aadmi Party.
Rajla told HT that: “My biggest mistake was to trust Amarinder and join him. Captain is surrounded by a corrupt coterie and only people with deep pockets can meet him. I have no deep pockets, so I am an ‘aam aadmi (common man).”
“Before the AAP, disgruntled leaders had no option but to move to the SAD. Had the AAP been formed in 2009, I would not have joined the Congress, since its leadership is corrupt. An honest leader such as Gurcharan Singh Tohra has been my mentor, so now when I see a party with honest credentials, I am going to join it without precondition; to work as a volunteer,” he added.
On hearing that Rajla might quit the party, Amarinder contacted him. But Rajla said when he had driven to Captain’s house in Chandigarh, his coterie had not allowed him in. “They said Captain didn’t want to meet me. Now, they have messaged me that please come and meet Captain Saab. This time, I have refused.” said Rajla.
In 2009, when his wife, Preneet Kaur, faced anti-incumbency, Amarinder had roped in Tohra loyalist Rajla with a promise of election ticket in 2012. Rajla ensured lead for Preneet from Samana, but in 2012, Captain fielded his son, Raninder Singh, who eventfully lost from Samana. “Amarinder didn’t keep his promise and favoured own family over party workers,” said Rajla.
“I am not going to the AAP for a ticket or to contest an election. I am going to teach a lesson to the corrupt politicians who have ruined Punjab,” he said. In spite of several attempts to contact him, Amarinder was unavailable for comments.