Three rebellious Aam Aadmi Party MLAs of Punjab on Thursday (June 3) joined Indian National Congress before the state chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
Those inducted into the party include former leader of opposition in the Assembly Sukhpal Khaira, who has already been suspended from AAP. The other two MLAs are Jagdev Singh Kamalu and Pirmal Singh Dhaula.
While one report said that they were inducted into the party following the consent given by the interim president of Congress, Sonia Gandhi the other said that the chief minister did not wait for it.
The three legislators were taken into the party fold just ahead of Captain Amarinder Singh’s departure for Delhi where he later on Friday met three-member panel of AICC.
With this latest crossing over of the legislators the number of AAP MLAs in Punjab has got reduced to 16. In the last Assembly election, the Congress had won 77 seats while AAP with 20 emerged the second largest party pushing the SAD to 15 and BJP to three seats.
Khaira was earlier in the Congress party and had left to join the AAP a year before the 2017 Assembly poll. Thus, for him it was just a home-coming.
As Assembly election is due just seven months from now the defection of the three AAP MLAs into the Congress has come as a shot in arm to the Captain, and according to political observers, would certainly improve his bargaining position in comparison to cricketer-turned-politician, Navjot Singh Sidhu.
The central leadership of the party is busy bringing about patch-up between Captain Singh and Sidhu, who too is eying for the post of chief minister. Sidhu had on June 1 appeared before the three-member panel.
It needs to be mentioned that before the 2017 Assembly poll Amarinder Singh had announced that this would be his last term as the chief minister. But now with the opposition Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party in no position to challenge Captain Singh and AAP losing its grip after the poor performance of the party in 2019 Lok Sabha poll the Punjab chief minister does not appear to be in the mood to hang his boots.