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The return of the prodigal brother

Sarabjit Pandher
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Malwinder Singh returns to the Congress, resolves differences with Capt Amarinder Singh

Malvinder Singh with his elder brother and former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh during a press conference in Chandigarh on Friday to announce the former's return to the Congress.Photo: Akhilesh Kumar
Malvinder Singh with his elder brother and former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh during a press conference in Chandigarh on Friday to announce the former's return to the Congress.Photo: Akhilesh Kumar

It was a royal reunion when Malwinder Singh in the presence of his elder brother Capt. Amarinder Singh, former Punjab Chief Minister, not only returned to the Congress fold but announced resolution of all “personal” differences with his sister-in-law Preneet Kaur, Union Minister of State for External Affairs. Scions of the royal family of the erstwhile princely State of Patiala, Capt. Amarinder Singh is referred to as ‘Maharaja Sahib’ and Malwinder Singh as ‘Raja Sahib’.

While some legislators and senior leaders were present, the president of the State unit of the Congress Partap Singh Bajwa and Preneet Kaur were conspicuous by their absence. Mr. Singh had quit the Congress ahead of the Assembly polls in 2012 when the party ticket from Samana constituency was given to Raninder Singh, the son of Capt Singh and Ms. Kaur. He had then joined the Shiromani Akali Dal, with a “tacit understanding” of being fielded from Patiala in the Lok Sabha polls, but the Akali Dal fielded Deepinder Singh Dhillon, a former protégé of Ms. Kaur.

Mr. Singh said he returned to the party after being invited by the party president Sonia Gandhi and would abide by any direction from her.

Moreover, he was quite disillusioned with the manner in which the Akali Dal had illegally handed over the administration to party representatives.

Ever since he joined, the Akali Dal leadership chose to keep him inactive, he claimed. Meanwhile Capt. Singh chose the occasion to take a dig at his bete noir - the Chief Minister, “My brother has come back to me. Let Parkash Singh Badal take his brother Gurdas Singh along when he goes canvassing in Bathinda.” At Bathinda, Mr. Badal’s daughter-in-law Harsimrat Kaur is challenged by his estranged nephew Manpreet Singh, whose People’s Party of Punjab had forged an alliance with the Congress. Manpreet Singh is the son of the Chief Ministers brother Gurdas Singh Badal.

Though he had initially opposed the alliance, Capt. Singh said that he would campaign for Manpreet Singh Badal as the decision had been taken by the Congress president.

But he forecast an uphill task for Manpreet Singh as he was pitched against the Chief Minister, who over the years had mastered the technique misusing money, muscle and police power in arm twisting the people to have his way in electoral politics.

Capt. Singh asserted that no more Congress leaders, especially MLAs, would leave the party to join the Akali Dal. He also claimed to have talked to those legislators whose names had figured in the regional media about their switching sides. “Opponents have been busy spreading rumours,” he said adding the present president of the party’s State unit needed some introspection about the recent exodus.


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