Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday termed the Congress campaign in Dhuri as nothing but "a game of one-upmanship" between state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and Amritsar MP Capt Amarinder Singh.
As Amarinder had raised the issue of sharing river waters with Haryana to attack the Akali Dal, Sukhbir replied that Punjab would not allow even a single drop of water to flow out of the state and that any sacrifice would be too small to keep this commitment. "Sar vadya ja sakda hai, par paani di ek vi boond nahi ditti ja sakdi (We can sacrifice ourselves, but will not part with a single drop of water)," he said while addressing a rally in favour of party candidate Gobind Singh Longowal here.
Badal said it was the SAD that had led agitations to safeguard the waters of Punjab. "We will continue to safeguard these interests come what may," he added.
Taking a dig at Amarinder's maiden visit to Dhuri for campaigning in the bypoll, Sukhbir said the Congress is not serious about the bypoll as it was witnessing a game of one-upmanship. "Leaders are not coming here to campaign for the party candidate but to showcase their support in the rank and file," he said, hinting at the differences between Amarinder and Bajwa.
Sukhbir said that due to this leadership fight, non-issues and petty squabbles were coming to the fore in the Congress campaign whereas issues concerning the people had taken a backseat.
He said the selection of the party candidate also spoke volumes about the say the Congress local leadership had in deciding the candidate. He said the candidature of Simar Pratap Barnala was decided by the party high command which had maintained a close relationship with Surjit Singh Barnala. "What can you expect from a party that works by remote control and from a candidate who does not know which party he would represent the next time," he added.
Sukhbir said that in direct contrast to this, the SAD believed in the maxim of 'Punjab first'. "We have given the ticket to a leader who has always been among you, someone who understands your problems and is best suited to address them."
Revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia and Bibi Jagir Kaur also addressed the rallies.