Manpreet Singh Badal, former Punjab Congress leader, joins BJP

Badal joined the party at the BJP headquarters in the presence of various leaders, including Union Minister Piyush Goyal.

Manpreet Singh Badal
Earlier in his resignation letter to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Badal said he was "disillusioned" by the party. (Photo source: ANI)

Former Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal joined the BJP Wednesday and slammed the Congress, which he quit before starting his new political innings, for factionalism. The Congress took a swipe at the former Punjab finance minister, saying “clouds (badal) over the Punjab Congress have cleared”. The five-time MLA lauded the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, saying India has emerged strong, including diplomatically and economically, under their nearly nine-year rule.

Voicing concern over the state of affairs in Punjab, he said the state is “slipping” and the BJP is the only party which can meet the challenges facing it.

On his decision to quit the Congress, he said how can one operate in a party which is at “war with itself”. “Not only in Punjab but in many states, the party is full of factions,” Badal said.

In his resignation letter to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Badal claimed that far from being acknowledged or appreciated for his efforts to garner funds for the state exchequer, he was “vilified” in the Punjab Congress “for failing to display what can only be described as fiscal recklessness”.

Union minister Piyush Goyal, who was present during his joining ceremony at the BJP headquarters here, was effusive in his praise of Badal.

Badal is erudite, simple and experienced and was also guided by larger national interest during the GST council meeting when he represented Punjab as its finance minister, Goyal said.

It is a golden day and his joining the BJP will further strengthen its bond with Sikhs, the senior BJP leader said.

In the resignation letter, which he also posted on Twitter, Badal said that he was “disillusioned” with the Congress.

“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 with these opportunities and for the kindness and courtesy you have shown me in the past,” he said in the letter addressing Rahul Gandhi.

“Regretfully, given the prevailing culture within the party and the defiant desire in the present course, I no longer wish to be a part of the Indian National Congress,” he said.

Badal, who served as the finance minister in the previous Congress government, said, “Seven years ago, I merged the People’s Party of Punjab 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,” he added.

The nephew of former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal joined the Congress in 2016. Last year, former chief minister Amarinder Singh and Sunil Jakhar, among other leaders, joined the BJP.

Badal, in his resignation letter, said, “The task of the finance minister of Punjab is never easy. I inherited an exchequer in shambles. It was truly on the brink of a total collapse.” “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,” he wrote.

“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 Rs 50,000 crore for the state exchequer which would not ordinarily have been acquired,” Badal said.

He claimed the way the Congress has conducted its affairs and taken decisions, especially concerning 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,” he wrote.

After Badal lost the Bathinda Urban seat in the 2022 state assembly polls, he was not visible in the party’s meetings. The differences between him and the Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring were known in the party circles.

He had been with the Shiromani Akali Dal earlier and had also been the finance minister in the erstwhile SAD-BJP regime.

Taking a swipe at Badal, Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh said on Twitter, “A man who left the Akali Dal to make his own party and then joined the Congress, was made finance minister for five years, then lost by a record margin of over 60,000 and thereafter went into hibernation now joins BJP.” “Punjab Congress par se badal chhat gaye hain (clouds over the Punjab Congress have cleared),” Ramesh said in Hindi.

Punjab Congress chief Amrinder Singh Raja Warring dubbed Badal’s resignation from the party as “good riddance” and termed him “congenitally power hungry”

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First published on: 18-01-2023 at 14:46 IST
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