Three years after he floated the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP), its president Manpreet Badal on Friday filed his nomination papers from Bathinda parliamentary constituency as a Congress candidate. Now, the PPP is the only registered party in the state which is not contesting on any seat. In case Manpreet wins, he would have to follow the Congress whip.
The PPP and the CPI will extend outside support to his candidature.
Manpreet cited both technical reasons and political compulsions behind contesting as the Congress candidate. Unlike in the 2012 assembly elections, Manpreet could not request the Election Commission to reserve kite as symbol for the PPP.
The party intends to contest only on one seat and a registered party is required to contest at least on two seats in the state to move such as application.
Manpreet alleged that the SAD was trying to sabotage his prospects by not only fielding a candidate with a similar name but also seeking kite as his poll symbol. He claimed that the ground report was in favour of the Congress symbol of hand.
This would be another blow to the PPP which has seen many desertions since its formation and a majority of its founder leaders have already joined the Congress, SAD or the Aam Aadmi Party.
Manpreet also visited the Congress and the CPI offices later in the day. Though the PPP has its own election office in Bathinda, the posters feature the Congress poll symbol.
When asked about the future of the PPP, Manpreet said it continued to exist. He claimed that there were 45 members in the central committee of the PPP and they had authorised him to contest on the Congress symbol and he was merely following that.
Political observers feel Manpreet wants to keep his options open after the election and is avoiding merging the PPP into the Congress.
MANPREET WANTS BATHINDA SSP REMOVED
The strictness shown by the election commission officers did not allow Manpreet to take along any family member while filing his papers.
Manpreet wanted to take along maximum Congress and CPI leaders to file the nomination. However, additional deputy commissioner (general) Rajiv Prashar made it clear that he could not allow more than five persons in support of Manpreet in his office.
Prashar wanted to give some relaxation and agreed to allow a family member inside the room. But, DSP Talwinderjit Cheena objected to it, so no family member was allowed inside.
Reacting to this, CPI leader Joginder Singh Joga said they would closely monitor if the same decorum was followed strictly when Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal would file the papers in the coming days.
Later, Manpreet also held a press conference along with the Congress, PPP and CPI leaders. He accused the government machinery of favouring SAD candidate Harsimrat Kaur Badal and urged the Election Commission to remove Bathinda SSP Gurpreet Singh Bhullar.
He said the election commission should have more teeth.
Terming the Badals as rakshasas (devils), Manpreet said it was not easy to contest against these rakshasas. He said the Badals could blame him for everything but they could not accuse him of corruption.