Punjab AAP MLAs in touch with us, says Congress
Top sources in the Congress on Wednesday said some AAP legislators were in touch with them to cross over.punjab Updated: May 11, 2017 09:50 IST
While the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi is busy proving “hacking” of EVMs in Punjab elections, the party faces a bigger challenge of keeping its flock of MLAs together in Punjab.
Top sources in the Congress on Wednesday said some AAP legislators were in touch with them to cross over. “Some AAP MLAs have approached the Congress. But we already have a near two-third majority with 77 MLAs. What will be the advantage of taking them?” a senior office-bearer of the party told HT. The BJP, too, has claimed that a chunk of AAP legislators is trying to defect to it.
The Congress said it is not eager in “gharwapasi” (homecoming) of its former leaders, some of whom have been luckier in the AAP but left disgruntled. While the claim of Sukhpal Khaira, a firebrand leader with proven ability to unearth scams and take on the government, to the post of state chief has been overlooked by Arvind Kerjriwal, prompting his resignation as chief whip, first-time MLA Aman Arora, who could not open his innings in the Congress despite managing to get the ticket twice, has been appointed the Punjab AAP co-president.
Except Khaira, other 19 AAP MLAs are first-timers. Of them, too, most are political greenhorns, barring leader of opposition HS Phoolka and Kharar MLA Kanwar Sandhu, who too has voiced his disapproval over the new appointments.
Ludhiana-based Bains brothers, Balwinder and Simarjeet Bains, the Congress sources said, have already kept their options open by not merging into the AAP before elections. At least two-third MLAs of a party have to break away to beat the anti-defection law. With 20 MLAs, the number of those who jump the AAP ship has to be at least 14.
Relegated to the third slot, Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal too is learnt to be in touch with some AAP MLAs to be able to become the main opposition party in the state. With 15 MLAs of its own and three of the BJP, the alliance is short of the AAP tally by two members.
The Congress believes that as it increases its footprint in the country, it is the BJP that would be the most likely contender for the poaching game. “The BJP does not want to continue in the present arrangement. It would only get more uncomfortable once senior Badal (former CM Parkash Singh Badal) retires from active politics. So the BJP is scouting for MLAs to take on not only the Congress and Kejriwal but also its own ally, the SAD. For the BJP, it is a fight to stay relevant in Punjab,” a state BJP leader said.