Chandigarh: The opposition Congress in Punjab on Wednesday suffered a setback with its legislator from the Moga assembly seat, Joginder Pal Jain, joining the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal.

Jain quit his assembly seat before making the announcement. Jain, who was elected on a Congress ticket in the January assembly elections, joined the Akali Dal in the presence of party president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.

"I am joining the Akali Dal unconditionally. I was feeling disappointed with the style of functioning of the Congress leadership and the infighting in the party. Dissidents were being encouraged to work against me," Jain told the media after joining the Akali Dal.

To avoid action under the anti-defection law, Jain quit his assembly seat before joining the Akali Dal. He gave his resignation to assembly speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal. Badal immediately announced that Jain would be the Akali Dal candidate from the Moga assembly seat when the by-election is held there next year.

Former Punjab director general of police (DGP) P S Gill, who contested and lost against Jain as the Akali Dal candidate from the Moga seat in January, was present when Jain joined the party."We welcome Jain to the Akali Dal. He will be our candidate in the by-election from this seat," Sukhbir Badal announced, claiming that the negative policies of the Congress leadership were responsible for the disillusionment of leaders of that party.

"This is an unprecedented move that an MLA, that too at the beginning of his tenure, has resigned from a party to join another party. It reflects the rising frustration of Congress MLAs with the dictatorial and insensitive leadership of the Congress," an Akali Dal leader said.

In the January assembly polls, the results of which were announced in March this year, the Akali Dal won 56 seats while its alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) bagged 12 seats (a total of 68) in the 117-member assembly. The Congress won 46 seats. With Jain leaving the party, the Congress strength in the house has been reduced to 45 seats.

(Agencies)

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