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Amarinder vs Amarinder: Cong MLA Targets Punjab Finance Minister, CM over Badals

File photo of Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh

File photo of Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh

Gidderbaha legislator Amarinder Singh Brar has accused minister Manpreet Singh Badal of siphoning off money to fund the Badal family.

Just when it seemed like things would quieten down in dissension-wracked Punjab Congress came another blow. Gidderbaha legislator and former Youth Congress president Amarinder Singh Brar in a tweet accused state finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal of siphoning off money to fund the Badal family at the helm of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Brar appealed to Congress leader and former party chief Rahul Gandhi to take disciplinary action against the minister.

The MLA, who is also considered close to Rahul, is echoing the thoughts of party leader Navjot Singh Sindhu, who too has accused chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh of being soft on the Badals, especially in the Kotkapura firing case. Congress’s Manpreet Badal, an estranged relative of the Akali Dal’s Badals, is close to the Captain.

The bickering in Punjab Congress began after some leaders suggested that the ruling party cannot win next year’s assembly polls under the Captain’s leadership. The chief minister’s detractors are unhappy over his alleged failure to take action against those responsible for the Kotkapura police firing on a crowd who had been protesting incidents of ‘sacrilege’ in 2015, under-representation of Dalits in the government, as well as the perceived inaccessibility of the CM.

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When the Captain recently met a three-member panel appointed to resolve differences, and party chief Sonia Gandhi, he was asked to correct the perception that he was soft on the Badals. In a state election where the dice seemed loaded in favour of the Congress as the Akalis were on the back foot over the ongoing farmers’ protests and there is anger against the Badals, a perception that is gaining momentum is that the Congress under the Captain is hand in glove with SAD’s first family.

This would harm the Congress and help the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that is trying to swiftly make inroads in the state ahead of the assembly elections next year. It is a point that has been raised by many Punjab Congress MLAs before the Gandhis and even the CM himself. One of these legislators is Brar who contested against Akali Dal’s Harsimrat Kaur Badal in Bathinda in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and lost by 19,000 votes. A soft stand on the Badals would harm him politically, which is why he sent out the tweet. The post is also a dig at the Captain who has had to defend himself on the charge of being soft on the Badals. The worry for some like Brar is that if the perception gains steam that the Badals and the Congress are no different, the public anger against the Akali Dal’s first family could spill over to the ruling party, which would be to the advantage of AAP.

Brar’s tweet also means that Sidhu’s attacks on the Captain for purportedly not doing enough for the people of Punjab are gaining traction. A source in the Congress party in Punjab told News18.com that while Sidhu himself may not be a tall leader in the state, the issue that he is raising is actually increasing his stature and making him look to the voters like the only one who is willing to take on his party for the sake of Punjab. It’s a perception that Sidhu, and now Brar, can use to their benefit, and to the detriment of the Captain.

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first published:July 12, 2021, 20:51 IST