Rejecting any suggestion that he was joining the Congress party, People's Party of Punjab (PPP) president Manpreet Singh Badal has said that the Punjab intelligence department had been planting such reports.
Manpreet, the estranged nephew of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, also denied meeting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to discuss any possibility of the PPP merging into the Congress.
In the recent past, several reports had been doing the rounds that the PPP would be holding a state-level meet on September 8 to discuss options, including the merger of the PP with the Congress.
"I don't know the source of these reports. The Punjab intelligence department and other similar organisations are planting such reports," Manpreet told Hindustan Times over phone.
"No state-level meeting is scheduled. I am presently meeting people in my constituency at Gidderbaha", he added.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the PPP had entered into an alliance with the Congress and Manpreet lost to Harsimrat Kaur Badal, now union food processing minister, by a narrow margin of 19,395 votes.
Manpreet also claimed that such rumours and speculation (of him joining either the Congress or the Akali Dal) had been floated several times since the formation of the PPP.
"I have been contradicting such reports from time to time," he added.
Even as his president has denied the possibility, a PPP leader still said that the party 'may enter into an alliance with the Congress for the 2017 assembly polls, but the final decision is yet to be taken by party leadership'.
PPP senior vice-president Harwinder Singh Laddi said, "We will accept whatever Manpreet decides as part of the party strategy."
Interestingly, on August 19, office-bearers of the Bathinda district unit had held a meeting where members had expressed concern over the limited and dwindling number of party leaders and workers attending public functions of the party over the past few months.