Hours before the visit of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Capt Amarinder Singh to the city, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal welcomed Ramesh Joshi, a former senior Congress leader, to the SAD.
This can be termed as a big blow to the Congress in the district as Joshi was among the most committed workers and efficient leaders of the party. Having served the party for almost four decades, Joshi's resentment with the party was evident from the fact that soon after quitting the Congress, he joined the SAD.
Interestingly, Sukhbir Badal's and Capt Amarinder Singh's visit to the city was not less than an event as there was a huge rush of workers from both political parties waiting to meet their leaders.
Both the leaders in their respective gatherings made claims to "definite win" in the municipal corporation (MC) elections.
Having dealt with the SAD rebels before the withdrawal of nominations on May 31, Sukhbir and his brigade is now concentrating upon wooing voters whereas the Congress has not been able to deal with its dissidents, as a result, a large number of party workers are either joining the SAD or have declared their independent candidature.
It is learnt that Joshi too had demanded a ticket for his kin for the MC elections but his request was not honoured. Amarjit Singh Tikka, a senior Congress leader, said, "The dissidence in the party is an extension of the assembly elections which needs to be curbed. Now, the ticket allocation in the MC elections has added fuel to the fire and the party should take serious note of the problem."
However, Capt Amarinder Singh's visit to ward number 1, 3, 4 and 6 in support of Congress candidates Sunil Mehfiq, Varinder Sehgal, Narinder Chaudhary and Avtar Kaur gave confidence to the party workers who were otherwise feeling low.
Addressing the party workers and the public in all the three wards, Amarinder criticised the SAD for having chosen Harish Rai Dhanda as the "mayoral candidate", adding "his conduct is not upright as he tried to oust me from the Vidhan Sabha which was quashed by the court of law and soon after his chairmanship to Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) was quashed."
However, Capt failed to give the name for the mayoral candidate of Congress.
Confident over the party's win in the MC elections, PPC chief said the Congress would get best projects from the Centre to take the city to the road of progression and expansion.
Amarinder also claimed to have won over more than 50% dissidents of the Congress, who he said were working in unison with other party workers.