Congress MLA Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu from Talwandi Saboo Assembly seat and former minister Malkiat Singh Birmi joined Shiromani Akali Dal in the presence of party president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. (Agencies)
Sidhu, a prominent leader in Punjab’s Malwa region, once remained a close confidant of former chief minister Amarinder Singh.
Sukhbir welcomed both the Congress leaders into the party fold and described their decision as a ‘major development’ in the politics of Punjab.
Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Charanjeet Singh Atwal said he had received Sidhu's resignation as MLA. He added that the resignation has been accepted.
Congress legislator Joginderpal Jain and former minister Avtar Singh Brar had earlier joined Akali Dal and were rewarded with plum positions by the party.
When asked about his decision to join Shiromani Akali Dal, Sidhu said the Congress in Punjab and at the Centre was on a suicidal path.
"The Congress top leaderships' non decisiveness is having a direct impact on workers in Punjab," he said, adding that state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa was taking unilateral decisions like in the case of Peoples Party of Punjab (PPP) chief Manpreet Singh Badal.
Manpreet is contesting from Bathinda against his sister-in-law and sitting MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal with the backing of Congress.
"The decision to support Manpreet by Congress is most dangerous and uncalled for by the top Congress leadership...this decision had been taken without taking Punjab Congress MLAs into confidence, particularly those from Malwa region," he said.
Sidhu further said, “We feel cheated and deceived by Bajwa and central leadership of Congress on the issue of Manpreet.”
"Everyone in the Congress wants to become a leader and no one is prepared to work as a worker," he said, adding that Bajwa was unable to take workers along with him.
"The Congress is faction ridden in Punjab...Bajwa's only aim is to become the Chief minister...the decision to back Manpreet is the last nail in the Congress coffin," he said.
The Shiromani Akali Dal is the largest party with 57 seats in the 17-member Punjab Assembly. Its ally, BJP, has 12. The Congress has been reduced to 44 seats with one seat falling vacant.
Congress MLA Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu from Talwandi Saboo Assembly seat and former minister Malkiat Singh Birmi joined Shiromani Akali Dal in the presence of party president and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.