Chandigarh: A day after AAP staged a protest in Chandigarh, Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said that the ruling Akali Dal was deliberately trying to promote Arvind Kejriwal's party with the hope of dividing anti-incumbency votes during the next year's Assembly elections.
He contended that there was a subtle understanding between the Akali Dal and the AAP "as was proved yesterday during the so-called gherao" of the Punjab Chief Minister's residence in Chandigarh.
Referring to yesterday's AAP protest against the SAD-BJP government, the former Chief Minister said, they (the Akalis and the AAP) were only playing a "friendly match" as they are feeling threatened by the Congress.
"The Akali Dal is deliberately trying to promote the AAP in the hope of dividing anti-incumbency votes, which will otherwise straightway go to the Congress," he told a meeting of newly-appointed vice presidents, general secretaries and district presidents of the party in Chandigarh.
The AAP on Monday held protest at Mohali near Chandigarh against the alleged multi-crore foodgrain scam in Punjab and demanded a Supreme Court-monitored SIT probe into the issue.
Amarinder Singh questioned how some of the AAP workers were allowed to reach the CM's residence despite heavy deployment of police on the entry points.
"While the Akalis tried to project that they were preventing the AAP workers from coming to Chandigarh, actually the police personnel facilitated their entry to the state capital," he said.
While questioning how the Akali government gave permission to the AAP workers to gather at Mohali, the Congress leader said in contrast, when the youth Congress workers were marching towards Chandigarh airport recently for getting it named after Bhagat Singh, they were brutally lathicharged with so many of them suffering injuries and fractures.
Expressing confidence that the Congress would come back to power in Punjab after next year's polls, he said, "no matter how much the Akalis try to encourage and support the AAP, people of Punjab have already realised that vote for the AAP will mean vote for the Akali Dal which does not augur well for the state."
With regard to today's results in the Delhi municipal by-elections in which the AAP won from 5 out of 13 wards, Amarinder Singh saw it as a reflection of "popular sentiment" being against the ruling party of Delhi.
"The by-elections may have been held for 13 wards only, but the results are certainly indicators of the popular sentiment in Delhi, which is clearly against the AAP," he said.
"Of the 13 municipal wards, AAP lost in 8, thus reflecting the popular disillusionment with the Kejriwal government in Delhi within a year," the senior Congress leader said
He congratulated the Delhi PCC president Ajay Maken and his team for the good performance by winning four seats in the Municipal polls.
"The AAP bubble has already burst in Punjab with the vertical division in the party between its four MPs," Amarinder Singh said.
The Punjab Congress chief told the newly-appointed office bearers that their positions have come with a responsibility and they have to ensure the party's victory in the forthcoming assembly elections.
Addressing the meeting, Chairperson of the Congress Campaign Committee Ambika Soni told the office bearers that party president Sonia Gandhi had placed "a lot of faith and responsibility" on them.
"The party's fate rests on your shoulders," she told them, while expressing confidence that Congress will return to power in Punjab in 2017.
Speaking on the occasion, Congress general secretary in-charge for Punjab Shakeel Ahmad asked the newly-appointed office bearers of the PCC to ensure that they took along everyone so that nobody felt left out.
"Not only will it convey a strong message to our colleagues that they are very much important and integral to us, but we will also stand benefitted by their experience," he said.
He said Congress is a very large party and it was not possible for the Congress president to nominate "all the deserving people" to the posts of vice presidents or general secretaries.
"Just because you could not be nominated to any post does not mean you did not deserve to be nominated and you are as important for us as anyone else," he said in a message to all those who could not be appointed to any position.
"Your seniority, your experience, your association and your dedication towards the party makes you more important and more indispensable for us than anyone else," he said, adding, the party was very much aware of their sacrifices and these can never be overlooked or forgotten.
On 14 May, the AICC had announced a jumbo Pradesh Congress Committee for Punjab comprising 36 vice presidents, 96 general secretaries and a 68-member executive committee.
Ahmad also took a dig at the AAP, saying "its fate is getting unfolded gradually as has been proved by today's results in Delhi Municipal bye elections, where it lost 8 of the 13 municipal wards it contested."
He said even in Punjab, after winning four seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the AAP fought two assembly by-elections in Patiala and Talwandi Sabo and lost deposit in both and did not dare to contest any more bye elections.
The AICC general secretary expressed confidence that the Congress would come to power in Punjab "as the Akali-BJP have already been rejected by the people for what they had done to Punjab during the two terms in power".
Updated Date: May 17, 2016 20:33 PM