AAP MLA Amarjit Singh Sandoa shifts loyalty to Congress
The Aam Aadmi Party(AAP) suffered yet another setback on Saturday as its Rupnagar MLA Amarjit Singh Sandoa joined the Congress in presence of Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh in Chandigarh.
On April 29, rebel AAP MLA from Mansa, Nazar Singh Manshahia, had joined the Congress. Welcoming Sandoa into the party fold, Amarinder described it as a “wave of exodus” from opposition parties. “It is a major boost for the Congress in state and will bolster the prospects of party’s Anandpur Sahib candidate Manish Tewari in the Rupnagar assembly segment. AAP national president Arvind Kejirwal’s autocratic style of functioning and chaos in the state unit is making its legislators feel suffocated,” Amarinder said.
According to those in know of the development, the defection was planned a day before Tewari filed his nomination papers on April 29 with Amarinder in tow. But the AAP got a wind of it and put up a unity show to keep its flock together. The deal came through after Rupnagar district president Brinder Singh Dhillon, who lost to Sandoa in the state polls, was brought on board and was present at Sandoa’s joining.
Punjab assembly speaker Rana KP Singh, who represents the Anandpur Sahib assembly seat, is learnt to have been instrumental in the getting Sandoa to switch over.
The game of optics, Congress sources disclosed, is not aimed at drumming up support for Tewari but party’s Sangrur candidate, Kewal Dhillon, a Captain loyalist. “Amarinder had overcome opposition to Dhillon’s name in the state screening committee by promising party president Rahul Gandhi that he (Dhillon) would weaken the position of AAP state chief Bhagwant Mann in Sangrur by getting several AAP MLAs into the Congress fold,” a senior Congress leader said.
Sandoa said he was feeling disenchanted in the AAP due to the top leadership’s “high-handed” approach towards Punjab. “I have decided to join Congress as I feel aligned with the democratic and inclusive philosophy of the party,” he said.
The MLA had sparked defection rumours as he was not taking part in campaign of AAP’s Anandpur Sahib nominee Narinder Singh Shergill. The latter, however, termed it as good riddance. “Sandoa has betrayed the voters of Rupnagar who elected him with a big margin. His joining would not have any adverse affect on party’s poll prospects as no volunteers went with him,” Shergill said. Akali Dal candidate Prem Singh Chandumajra accused the CM of buying out AAP MLAs to beat anti-incumbency.