A Badal to take on Badals. Newly appointed Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh is likely to invite People’s Party of Punjab president Manpreet Badal – the estranged nephew of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal – to his coronation rally on December 13 at Bathinda, the bastion of the ruling family.
Manpreet, the son of the CM’s younger brother Gurdas Badal, had contested as a Congress candidate from Bathinda during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections against the CM’s daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur Badal, cutting her victory margin from 1.15 lakh votes during her debut election against Amarinder’s son, Raninder Singh, in 2009 to a mere 19,874 votes.
The invite is bound to rattle the ruling family, particularly at a time when Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal reacted to the former CM’s appointment as the state Congress chief with a dare, asking him to hold a rally in Bathinda, a challenge Amarinder has duly accepted.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
In the 2012 polls, Amarinder, as Congress state president and CM candidate, had brushed off Manpreet as a “summer storm”, saying his fledgling party would not impact Congress fortunes. Though Manpreet and his party failed to open their account, the “summer-storm” swept off a precious 5% of votes, handing the Congress its second successive defeat in the state polls. In his post-poll arithmetic, Amarinder cited the M-factor as the “game-spoiler”.
Congress sources confirmed an invite to Manpreet was in the offing. “He will be extended an invite as he was the party’s candidate for Bathinda. A decision will be taken at a meeting in Patiala on Wednesday. A meeting between Amarinder and Manpreet will be organised to discuss the future course,” a senior Congress leader and Amarinder confidant said.
Manpreet, a former state finance minister, did not rule out the possibility of an alliance with the Congress.