People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) chief Manpreet Singh Badal on Friday met Congress vice-resident Rahul Gandhi in Delhi aiming at the merger of his party with the Congress. He was accompanied by Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder SIngh, former state party president Partap Singh Bajwa and chairperson of the Congress Campaign Committee Ambika Soni.
Earlier, Bajwa had told HT that Manpreet’s entry into the party fold would give it a fresh boost, especially when the 2017 assembly polls are set to witness a triangular contest, with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) jumping into the fray.
“He is a promising face...is secular in character and holds credibility in the Malwa region,” Bajwa had said.
Manpreet is paving his way into the Congress amidst tremendous opposition from within the party’s leadership in the Malwa belt.
However, Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh and former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had welcomed the idea of a Congress-PPP merger.
Amarinder had recently said he would welcome Manpreet in the Congress and the talks for the PPP’s merger with the party were on.
Bhattal said Manpreet’s entry will help the Congress to take on the ruling Badals in a big way.
Manpreet had launched the PPP on March 27, 2011, lambasting both the Akalis and the Congress. He contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on the Congress symbol from Bathinda but lost to the Shiromani Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal by nearly 20,000 votes in a very close contest.
The PPP, however, had failed to open its account in the 2012 assembly elections.
Manpreet had parted ways from the ruling Badals, resigning as the Punjab finance minister in the fag-end of 2010, when he said his voice of dissent on the state’s fiscal health was not rebutted within the Akali-BJP government.
In a recent interview to the HT, Manpreet had stated that he initially wanted to patch up with the AAP during the last Lok Sabha elections but was now in talks with the Congress.