With the crucial battle for Punjab just some months away and all political parties facing challenges from within, the season for ‘crossovers’ have started.
No party has been left untouched with some strong regional leaders switching allegiance and crossing over to other parties.
For the ruling Congress, the appointment of a new PCC chief in the form of Navjot Singh Sidhu too has led to disgruntlement and crossovers.
The party is trying to renew its focus on the all-important Malwa region, the way it did in 2017. But has faced some setbacks with some leaders upset with the elevation of Sidhu, leaving the party.
Two powerful regional leaders have quit the party in the last few days. Gurmeet Singh Khudian, a prominent leader from Lambi constituency, the stronghold of the Akalis, has crossed over to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
Another leader Jagroop Singh Gill, also known to be a grassroots leader in the area, has remained a six-time councillor has also quit the Congress. He is also believed to be a close associate of Finance Minister Manpreet Badal.
Khudian has been an old Congressman, his father Lok Sabha MP Jagdev Singh Khudian has been an important leader in the party. In fact that he was chosen as the covering candidate for Captain Amarinder Singh who was the Chief Ministerial candidate.
The exit of these two leaders comes at a time when the Punjab Congress is trying to put up a united face ahead of the elections. According to senior party leaders, the two leaders had earlier too expressed their resentment on the induction of new PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. But at that time Sidhu too had intervened and prevented their exit from the party in 2017.
“At a time when the Congress party is trying to set its house in order, such exits should not be allowed as it leaves a mark of insecurity among other ranks,” pointed out a senior Congress leader. He said that quitting the ruling party and joining the main opposition party is harmful to its reputation.
If Congress has to come back to power, it has to perform well in the Malwa region. “The main opposition AAP had done well in this region during the 2017 elections. They had won 18 of the 20 seats. And such exits will further weaken the party in this region,” pointed out the leader.
And it’s not just Congress, other parties too are feeling the heat. The Shiromani Alkali Dal (SAD), which is pitching itself as a principal contender to the Congress party, has been impacted by crossovers too.
Five senior Akali dal leaders including Amanjot Kaur Ramoowalia crossed over to the former ally the BJP a few days back. Amanjot is the daughter of former Union minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia.
The AAP has already lost some of the prominent leaders to other parties like Sukhpal Khaira and a few other MLAs who crossed over to the Congress recently.