Manpreet Badal, the estranged nephew of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, on Friday, joined Congress after meeting party Vice President Rahul Gandhi. Manpreet's party which made a debut in the 2012 assembly polls failed to register its presence but managed to win six percent of the votes. This transfer of vote share ended up harming the Congress' bid for a comeback in Punjab.
Now, Congress hopes consolidation of anti-incumbency votes against the Akali Dal could help party come in power again.
AICC general secretary and in-charge of Punjab Congress affairs, Shakeel Ahmed, said, "We lost the previous assembly election by 0.8% of vote share. PPP at that time got 5%. If we were together, we could have saved Punjab."
Hectic parleys were held between the former Akali leader and Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh and other senior party leaders before the decision was taken to merge Badal's outfit, People's Party of Punjab, with Congress, sources said.
The merger was sealed today during a meeting between Badal and Rahul at the latter's residence here where Singh and AICC General Secretary Shakeel Ahmad were also present, they said.
A formal announcement in this regard is likely to be made soon, they added.
Manpreet Badal had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 General Elections from Bathinda on a Congress ticket against his sister-in-law and Akali leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
He was earlier part of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government and held the finance portfolio until his exit from the party over differences with his uncle Parkash Singh Badal and cousin Sukhbir Singh Badal.
He had thereafter launched the People's Party of Punjab.