Ex-Punjab minister Manpreet Badal quits Congress, to join BJP today

Badal, who was part of the Congress manifesto committee for last year’s Punjab Assembly elections, has faced criticism from a section of the unit for not joining the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra.  

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By: Anand Singh | New Delhi
Updated: 18 January, 2023 2:00 pm IST
Former Punjab Fin Min Manpreet Singh Badal quits Congress

Punjab Congress leader Manpreet Singh Badal, who served as the finance minister in the previous Captain Amarinder Singh government, resigned from the grand old party and is all set to join the rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Delhi on Wednesday.

Badal, who was part of the Congress manifesto committee for last year’s Punjab Assembly elections, has faced criticism from a section of the unit for not joining the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Yatra.

In his resignation letter sent to Rahul Gandhi, Badal wrote, “It is with deep sadness that I am writing to officially tender my resignation from primary membership of the Indian National Congress. I merged the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) with your party. I did so with immense hope, and an expectation of being integrated into an organisation with a rich history, that would allow me to serve both the people of Punjab and its interests to the best of my ability”.

“Initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to disappointing disillusionment. The task of the Finance Minister of Punjab is never easy. I inherited an exchequer in shambles: it was truly on the brink of total collapse. I essentially had two options,” he wrote.

The Punjab leader further said, “I could either choose to continue to ignore numerical realities and pursue populist policies – that would unequivocally exacerbate Punjab’s problems to the point where a financial emergency would be imminent – or I could accept the fact that difficult decisions were desperately needed, and assiduously adhere to fiscal discipline. I chose the latter. In doing so, I convincingly pleaded Punjab’s case to the 15th Finance Commission and the GST Council, and prevailed upon them to treat the state favourably.”

“I do not believe I am exaggerating in saying that I almost single-handedly succeeded in garnering an additional 50,000 crores for the state exchequer, which would not ordinarily have been acquired. However, far from being acknowledged or appreciated for my efforts, I was vilified in the Punjab Congress for failing to display what can only be described as fiscal recklessness.

“I do not see the point in elaborating extensively on all the particular proceedings that led to my ultimate and irrevocable disaffection. Suffice it to say, that the manner in which the Congress party has conducted its affairs and taken decisions, specifically with regards to Punjab, has been disheartening to say the least. The coterie of men entrusted with the authority to dictate Delhi’s writ to the Punjab unit of the Congress are far from sound. Instead of striving to reduce internal disagreement in an already divided house, these men acted to further increase factionalism, and almost as a matter of policy strengthened the very worst elements within the party.

“I devoted every ounce of energy to every office I have had the honour of holding, both in the party and the government. I thank you for having provided me these opportunities, and for the kindness and courtesy you have shown me in the past. Regretfully, given the prevalent culture within the party and the defiant desire to persist in the present course, I no longer wish to be a part of the Indian National Congress,” the former Punjab finance minister said.

Badal is the estranged cousin of Shiromani Akali Dal leader Sukhbir Singh Badal and was expelled from the SAD in October, 2010. He won from the Gidderbaha Assembly seat in 1995, 1997, 2002, and 2007 elections.

After his expulsion from the SAD, he formed People’s Party of Punjab (PPP) in 2011 along with Bhagwant Mann, currently leading the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the state.

He merged the PPP in 2016 and won the Assembly election from the Batinda Urban seat the next year. However, he lost the elections in face of the AAP storm in 2022.

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