Setback for Punjab Congress as 4 former ministers, 2 ex-MLAs join BJP

Tribune News Service

Sanjeev Singh Bariana

Chandigarh, June 4

With four former ministers, two ex-MLAs and a mayor joining the BJP today, the Congress in Punjab is a sinking ship. The new entrants were welcomed by Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat at the party’s office here.

Ex-ministers Balbir Singh Sidhu, Raj Kumar Verka, Sunder Sham Arora and Gurpreet Kangar jumped the ship. So did former MLAs Kewal Dhillon and Amrik Dhillon and Balbir Sidhu’s brother, who is the mayor of Mohali. Former SAD MLAs Mohinder Kaur Josh and Sarup Chand Singla also joined the BJP. They were all photographed with Union Home Minister Amit Shah later. The media was not allowed inside.

Grateful the elite who enjoyed privileges in the party have vacated the place for the younger generation Raja Warring, —Punjab Congress Chief

Former ministers Sidhu, Arora and Kangar were sidelined after Charanjit Channi took over as CM last year. They were lying low since then. Denied the party ticket in the Assembly elections, former MLAs Kewal Dhillon and Amrik Dhillon were later expelled for anti-party activities.

Josh, a former Chief Parliamentary Secretary, was expelled by the Shiromani Akali Dal in December 2021. Former Bhathinda MLA Singla resigned in March this year, accusing party president Sukhbir Badal of having helped his cousin Manpreet Badal in the recent elections.

Senior Congress leader Kuljit Nagra claimed certain party leaders had joined the BJP fearing they could be implicated in false cases.

“Best of luck for joining the BJP. Grateful that the elite who enjoyed privileges in the party have vacated the place for the younger generation from a common background,” Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring tweeted. Talking to the media, Sidhu claimed the Congress had been hijacked by a ‘group’ for personal gains. Verka accused Congress leaders of abandoning the party’s ideology.

“The BJP will now play a bigger role in Punjab politics and go solo in the parliamentary elections. We are committed to standing with the people of the land of the Gurus. The Centre is with each and every resident of Punjab. The ongoing crises in the state will not be allowed to worsen,” the Union Home Minister said after the function.

Taking a dig at the Aam Aadmi Party, he said within three months the party had shown its true colours. “One shudders to think what they can do in five years.”

Shah claimed the BJP in Punjab would emerge as the “largest political force” in the 2024 parliamentary elections as the people were waiting to oust AAP.

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