The firing upon PPP's defeated candidate Lakhvir Singh Lakha at Sidhana village near here late Sunday has given the party ammunition to attack the government.
Suspecting political vendetta behind the attack, Manpreet Singh Badal, president of the People's Party of Punjab (PPP), has asked for a wrap-up of investigation in 10 days.
Gurtej Singh, one of Lakha's old friends, is named in the shooting at the village gymnasium where the leader had gone to exercise. Lakha lost the last general assembly election at Rampura.
Competing against veterans politicians such as former Congress legislator Gurpreet Singh Kangar and now education minister Sikander Singh Maluka, he still managed a respectful defeat and earned more than 10,000 votes.
"Gurtej shot at Lakha at the village gymnasium," said the station house officer of Phul. Some other buddies of Lakha tried to catch the assailant but then thought of saving the leader first. The suspect has fled and no weapon is recovered. We are yet to register a case."
Ranjit Singh Munna, eyewitness and friend of Lakha, had almost a similar version, except that he said he had not seen the attacker. "I heard four shots," he said. "We hit the attacker in the head but he managed to flee. He had two pistols."
Lakha's friends reported the incident around 7:45pm on Sunday, and took the leader to Adesh Medical College. A bullet had gone through his neck and another was lodged in the lungs. Doctors referred him to Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, after giving him first aid. Lakha is out of danger.
Tension in town
Tension prevailed in the Rampura Phul constituency after the attack on Lakha. It was a hypersensitive constituency in the election days because of its history of violent political clashes.
PPP founder Manpreet Singh Badal reached Bathinda on Monday morning and, in a quick press conference, blamed the firing on political vendetta. The conference was at the house of party leader Sukhdev Singh Chahal.
"I do not want to name anyone but I have a strong feeling that it's a case of political vendetta," said Manpreet.