Akali Dal, AAP leaders join Congress in Punjab

Chandigarh, Dec 26 (IANS) A day after outspoken Congress leader Sukhpal Khaira joined the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, the opposition Congress claimed that many leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and AAP have come into its fold.

Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh announced that those who joined included 31 leaders and workers from Akali Dal and 21 from AAP and their supporters. The Akali Dal leaders were from Sangrur and Moga districts.

Talking to reporters here, he said members of the Akali Dal included former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) member Inder Mohan Singh.

The former Punjab chief minister also said the Punjab unit of the Congress party will press for the early announcement of candidates for the assembly elections scheduled to be held in February-March 2017.

He said the state unit would be reconstituted and the announcement would be made soon.

“The state unit will press for the early announcement of candidates for the assembly elections scheduled to be held in 2017. The PCC (Pradesh Congress Committee) was being reconstituted and it will be announced very soon,” Amarinder told media in Chandigarh, adding he would seek that the names of candidates be announced at least six months in advance.

Flanked by senior party leaders including former union minister Manish Tewari, Jagmeet Singh Brar, Laal Singh and Sunil Jakhar, Amarinder Singh said that the Akali Dal-BJP government in Punjab was on its way out in the state.

He added that AAP’s popularity in Punjab was only hype.

“The AAP does not stand any chance in Punjab. The people of Delhi are feeling disappointed and disillusioned with the AAP government there as it has not fulfilled a single promise it had made to the people,” Amarinder Singh said.

He refuted allegations of the AAP leaders that the Congress leadership had an “understanding” with the ruling Akali Dal.

He also sought to apologise that senior Congress leader and former MP Jagmeet Brar was not invited to address a big rally that the Congress party organised in Bathinda earlier this month.

“I apologise to him for this,” Amarinder Singh said, with Brar seated next to him at the press conference.

Amarinder Singh said the exit of firebrand leader Sukhpal Khaira from the Congress and his joining the AAP would not affect the Congress in Punjab.

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