Punjab party merges with Congress ahead of 2017 polls 

New Delhi/Chandigarh, Jan 15 (IANS) People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) chief Manpreet Singh Badal has merged his party with the Congress, it was announced on Friday.

Manpreet, a former finance minister of Punjab, is the estranged nephew of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The merger comes ahead of the 2017 assembly elections in Punjab.

“We are happy that the PPP under Manpreet Singh Badal has today merged with the INC,” the Congress announced on Twitter.

Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh and former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal reportedly welcomed the idea of the Congress-PPP merger.

“We are happy that Manpreetji joined us. His entire party met (Congress vice president) Rahulji. We are starting our campaign on a good note,” the Congress tweets quoted Captain Amarinder Singh as saying.

The Congress, which is Punjab’s main opposition party, and the PPP announced an alliance in March 2014 for elections to the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state.

Manpreet, a first cousin of Akali Dal president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Bathinda seat as an alliance candidate against Sukhbir’s wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal. He lost by a margin of about 20,000 votes.

The PPP earlier formed an alliance with the Left and other smaller parties under the banner of ‘Sanjha Morcha’ just before the January 2012 assembly elections in Punjab but neither the PPP nor any other Morcha candidate could win any seat.

However, the PPP garnered a ]six percent vote share, playing a spoilsport for the Congress that ended up with 46 seats as against 56 of the Shiromani Akali Dal and 12 of the Bharatiya Janata party. Three seats in the 117-member assembly were won by Independents.

Manpreet quit as the state finance minister in October 2010 and broke away from the ruling SAD later after differences cropped up with the chief minister and his deputy over governance and subsidies. He floated the PPP in 2011.

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