Bathinda Cong factionalism comes to the fore on Rahul Gandhi’s coronation too

Harminder Jassi and those swearing allegiance to Manpreet Badal hold separate functions; Jassi again dubs Manpreet a turncoat

punjab Updated: Dec 12, 2017 12:29 IST
Prabhjit Singh
Prabhjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Bathinda
Bathinda Cong,Rahul gandhi,Rahul
Ex-MLA Harminder Singh Jassi at a press meet in Bathinda on Monday.(Sanjeev Kumar/HT)

The local unit of the Congress on Monday witnessed differences between finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal and former minister Harminder Singh Jassi coming out in the open, with both camps organising their respective events to celebrate Rahul Gandhi’s coronation as party president.

After eight months of hibernation, Jassi, who lost from Maur seat this time, made a public appearance and addressed the cadres to convey that his group has “no turncoats”. This was a direct dig at Manpreet, who is a nephew of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and remained a minister in the SAD-BJP government before floating his own party, which he merged with the Congress before this year’s assembly polls.

Jassi said, “Look at the Nehru-Gandhi family; they have remained committed to the Congress ever since the pre-Independence era, even when there was no race for prime minister or chief minister.”

“I grew up here (in Bathinda) as a Congressman and I must say that the promises the Congress made to the people of Bathinda, that mainly included revival of the thermal plant, must be fulfilled,” he added.

Jassi had publicly dubbed Manpreet a turncoat in February too ahead of the elections.Jassi, a relative of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, had sought the ticket from Bathinda that went to Manpreet.

Former councillor Iqbal Singh Dhillon organised the event for Jassi, where three councillors were present.

Less than three kilometres away, Manpreet’s brother-in-law Jaijeet Singh Johal, popularly known as Jojo, presided over a separate show of strength, distributing sweets at Panchayat Bhawan.Jojo, who does not hold any party post, was joined there by Bathinda urban district unit president Mohan Lal Jhumba and some councillors. They hailed Manpreet as the leader of the state. He talked about “Manpreet’s “proximity” with Rahul and said it would be fruitful for Punjab and specifically for the Bathinda region.

Meanwhile, Jassi, who had a close shave in a terror blast during his election campaign in Maur, said he had recently met CM Capt Amarinder Singh and state police chief Suresh Arora to speed up the investigations.

First Published: Dec 12, 2017 12:29 IST