Amarinder Singh, the former Congress chief minister of Punjab, today hailed Sunil Jakhar -- the man who led the party's state unit during his tenure -- as he crossed over to the BJP. Sources have indicated that Mr Jakhar might be offered a Rajya Sabha seat and given some responsibility in Punjab, where both BJP and the Congress have been wiped out by Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party in the recent assembly elections.
"Right man in the right party. Congratulations to @sunilkjakhar for joining @BJP4India. Honest and upright leaders like him cannot breathe in the @INCIndia anymore," tweeted Mr Singh, who quit the Congress and formed his own party last year after a year of bitter, public friction with a section led by Navjot Sidhu. Ahead of the recently concluded assembly elections, he had formed an alliance with the BJP.
Sunil Jakhar had turned an arch-critic of the Congress after Charanjit Singh Channi was chosen to replace Amarinder Singh in the top post, for which he was a contender. He had lost the state party post also to Navjot Sidhu.
Mr Jakhar had quit the Congress on May 14 after he was issued a showcause notice by the party leadership over his criticism of Mr Channi. The party's disciplinary committee had recommended that he be suspended from the party for two years and removed from all posts.
Joining the BJP today, Mr Jakhar said he left the Congress after 50 years "because they put me in the "katghara" (witness box), questioned my intent".
"The Congress served me notices, but could not keep me quiet," he said, adding that the party's "coterie has now turned into a gang".
Shortly after Mr Jakhar's announcement that he was quitting the party, Navjot Sidhu advised the party to hold him back, calling his predecessor an "asset".