Former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who is spearheading the Congress campaign in the 2017 Punjab assembly polls after two successive defeats, believe that the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and AAP stood no chance this time.
The Akalis have “exposed” themselves while AAP has failed in running the government in Delhi, he said on Saturday. He took a dig at the Akalis, calling them “saviours of the Panth” who lay exposed by the state’s recent politico-religious turmoil.
He also waived aside reports of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP trying to use the Punjab polls as a platform to expand its national footprint.
“Their (AAP’s) state convenor Sucha Singh Chhotepur has the experience of being a state minister only for three months and Bhagwant Mann has never been part of a government,” said the Amritsar parliamentarian who is the Congress’s deputy leader in the Lok Sabha.
Referring to former Congress leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira joining the AAP, he said: “He lost thrice from Bholath assembly constituency. One has left us but many others have joined our party.”
Singh welcomed Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee member from Sunam, Indermohan Singh, workers and local leaders of AAP and Bahujan Samaj Party into the Congress fold.
Later, AAP MP Bhagwant Mann countered Singh with a tweet that no member from his party had defected to join the Congress.
Singh lashed out at the SAD-BJP government, citing the gruesome murder of man at an Akali leader’s farmhouse in Abohar to underscore growing “lawlessness” in the state. He also referred to an alleged assault on three youth in November, whose limbs were brutally chopped off but the case went unreported.
The new Congress Punjab unit chief said his party won’t organise big rallies but hold booth-level meetings. He told reporters that the state unit will ask the party high command for an early announcement of candidates for the 2017 election.