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Capt mobilises support for Manmohan
Naveen S Garewal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Punjab Congress campaign committee chairman Capt Amarinder Singh today started a movement of sorts to try and convince all anti-Badal Sikhs to strengthen the party. The move, said he, was also aimed at consolidating people with different ideologies but united to see Dr Manmohan Singh as the prime minister again.

As Sikhs from different walks of life are coming out openly to support the Congress from outside on the Manmohan issue, over a dozen Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders recently switched loyalty. The dissident Akalis expressed displeasure at the political functioning of the SAD and Capt Amarinder Singh had even presented them before the media.

Today, Amarinder was flanked on either side by former SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta and DSGPC president Paramjit Singh Sarna, the duo pledging to oppose Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler but declaring support for every other Congress candidate to ensure the return of Dr Manmohan Singh.

Clarifying that they were not joining the Congress but only backing the party from outside, both the leaders appealed to all those “disillusioned with SAD and its leadership to join them to ensure victory of the Congress”.

On the other hand, Amarinder read out the names of 18 Akalis who had decided to join the Congress, the prominent among them being Rajbir Singh Padiala.

Expressing disillusionment with what they termed as “autocratic functioning of the SAD, where election promises were only made to be broken”, these rebel Akalis said “they would work to ensure the victory of Manmohan Singh, as he had made the Sikh nation proud and fought for the honour of the Sikhs by taking up the issue of the Sikh turban with the French government”.

On the issue of allotting tickets to Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, Amarinder Singh said that the decision had been taken by the party high command and there was no question of asking for a re-think on the matter. He accused the SAD of engineering protests to give the issue a political colour.

Amarinder said that these two Congressmen had contested parliamentary elections before as well and that Sukhbir Badal could have raised protest against the two inside or outside the House any time. Twenty-five years later, the SAD has raised the issue of 1984 riots while during the NDA government they never did so, he said, adding no one could be barred from contesting polls unless convicted under law.

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