In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections, the Punjab unit of the Congress is awaiting the nod from its high command for forging an alliance with the Sanjha Morcha, which comprises the People’s Party of Punjab headed by Manpreet Singh Badal, the CPI, the CPI(M) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) led by the former Tamil Nadu Governor, Surjit Singh Barnala.
The State Congress has proposed that Mr. Badal, estranged nephew of the Chief Minister, should be fielded from Bathinda to challenge his cousin’s wife, Harsimrat Kaur. It also plans to “accommodate” the CPI at Faridkot and field Congress candidates for the remaining 11 seats in the State.
PCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa said it was necessary to consolidate the secular votes. He said an analysis of the last Assembly elections reveals that the Congress and the Sanjha Morcha polled at least a lakh votes more than the Akali Dal-BJP combine in the nine segments that fell within the Bathinda parliamentary constituency.
Though part of the “third alternative” at the national level, the CPI too was keen to forge an alliance with the Congress, while the CPI(M) has announced that it would quit the Sanjha Morcha if such a tie-up is formalised. Some of his associates, including comedian-turned-politician, Bhagwant Mann, left Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal as they could not accept an alliance with the Congress.
The former Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, and senior leader Jagmeet Singh Brar too have expressed their reservations about aligning with Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal.
Pointing out that he would abide by any decision taken by the Congress president, Capt. Singh said on Thursday that Mr. Badal accounted for just two per cent of the nearly 6.5 per cent votes polled by the Sanjha Morcha in the 2012 Assembly polls.
However, Mr. Bajwa said that even the two per cent meant an additional 30,000 extra votes for the Congress in every parliamentary constituency that could prove crucial in some segments.