Jostling to keep the Congress together here in view of resentment of former MLA Harminder Singh Jassi and his supporters over ticket allotment, Congress Bathinda (urban) candidate Manpreet Singh Badal on Sunday downplayed the resentment, saying he will convince them.
Talking to media after holding first workers meeting before formally kick starting his poll campaign, Manpreet Badal acknowledged the resentment in Jassi group and said he will approach Jassi and his supporters.
“Their resentment is obvious as they are his (Jassi) supporters. Jassi has helped me in parliament polls. I will approach him and his supporters and will convince them. I have come to know that Jassi has been offered ticket for assembly polls by the party high command. I will help him wherever he will contest the assembly poll,” said Manpreet, in an attempt to placate Jassi. Manpreet’s father Gurdas Singh Badal accompanied Manpreet in the meeting
Meanwhile, continuing to maintain distance from Manpreet’s programmes, Jassi’s supporters, including city unit president Mohan Lal Jhumba, didn’t attend the meet. After Manpreet Badal has been fielded as the party candidate here, Jassi has gone incommunicado. Neither Jassi nor Jhumba could be contacted despite repeated attempts. Jassi’s supporters, led by Jhumba, had a meeting at latter’s house on Friday night where they were asked to wait for directions from Jassi.
However, seven out of nine party councillors, including many others, who had lost polls of municipal corporation Bathinda (MCB) attended the meet. Earlier, five of party councillors had shown solidarity with Jassi in a meeting at his house last month.
The Sunday’s meet was addressed by Congress rural unit president Narinder Bhaleria and the leaders considered in anti-Jassi camp, including Rajan Garg, Satpal Bhateja, Inderjit Singh Sahni, Tehal Singh Sandhu, Darshan Singh Jeeda and councillor Jagroop Singh Gill. Leaders from the camp of former finance minister Surinder Singla including KK Aggarwal and Hariom Thakur also attended the meet.
Many of the speakers stressed on unity among the party workers. Aggarwal, however, in an indirect reference to Jassi went on saying that those who think that party is dependent on them should clear doubt from their mind.
In his address, Manpreet said, “Love and affection is the key to win over those who have some issues.” Addressing the gathering, Manpreet tried to strike an emotional chord with the Congress workers and said he will remain with them through their thick and thin.
He targeted SAD-BJP rule and said if we want to get rid of ‘misrule’ of the alliance, we should work for ensuring win of party candidates.
To woo people on local issues he said Congress wouldn’t rest until the issues faced by Bathinda residents are resolved. In an attempt to allay the allegations of him being hand-in-glove with ruling Badals, he said, “Since political rivals don’t find any issue against me, they try to malign, my image by raising such rumours.”