Things are going from bad to worse for the People's Party of Punjab (PPP), with party president Manpreet Badal running out of trusted associates.
Former PPP patron Sardara Singh Johl has returned to the academic arena as the chancellor of the upcoming Central University in Bathinda, while senior leaders and former MLAs Bir Devinder Singh, Didar Singh Bhatti, Raghbir Singh and Harnek Singh Gharuan and former Rajya Sabha member Varinder Singh Bajwa have already quit the party.
The alarm bells had started ringing when the party failed to win any seat in the January 30 assembly elections. In fact, former MLAs Manjinder Singh Kang, Sant Ajit Singh, Jagbir Brar and Charanjit Channi, besides Manpreet's cousin and "right-hand man" Kushaldeep Dhillon, deserted the PPP even before the polls.
Besides losing top leaders, the PPP has remained a nonentity, failing to make its presence felt as an opposition party. Notwithstanding its 5% vote share within two years of its inception, the PPP's activities have remained confined to mere statements issued by Manpreet.
After drawing a blank in the assembly polls, the party barely opened its account in the municipal elections in June.
As per dissidents, a key factor for the PPP's sorry state of affairs is Manpreet's "attitude".
"It's only he (Manpreet) who decides the party agenda. It's a one-man show," said a PPP co-founder who would be present at Manpreet's press briefing on Thursday, when the party chief will reply to the allegations levelled by the party's founder member, Arunjot Sodhi.
Many critics describe Manpreet as another feudal entity from the ruling Badals' clan, with which he had parted ways after a long association.
When Manpreet had floated the party at the Khatkar Kalan rally in 2011, he had dedicated it to the martyrs. At the rally, he had introduced Shaheed Bhagat Singh's nephew Abhay Sandhu as a party leader. Ironically, on Wednesday, Sandhu joined the rebels to question Manpreet's integrity.