"Congress is selling Lok Sabha tickets...poor Congressmen who are keen to enter the poll fray with limited resources are dumping the party," SAD President Sukhbir Singh Badal said here after inducting sitting Congress MP from Fatehgarh Sahib Sukhdev Singh Libra into the partyfold.
"Congress has become directionless...there is no respect for workers and leaders at grassroots level in the party so in frustration they are deserting it," he said. He alleged that the decisions taken by the Congress are by a chosen few and no grassroot level worker is taken into confidence.
"Those who are getting tickets in Congress are getting them only by paying huge money," he said. Sukhbir claimed that Union Minister of State Santosh Choudhary, who was among the front runner from her bastion Hoshiarpur, was denied ticket by the Congress and she herself alleged that she could not afford money to pay for a Lok Sabha ticket.
Congress had fielded sitting Jalandhar MP Mohinder Singh Kaypee from Hoshiarpur seat. Congress has put its bet on sitting MLA Sadhu Singh Dharamsot in place of Libra. Before 2009 elections, Libra got elected as MP on SAD ticket in 2004. Libra hogged limelight after he defied the SAD whip in 2008 and abstained from the Parliament during voting on Nuclear deal.
He was expelled from the SAD after that and year later he joined Congress and contested on party ticket to again get elected to the Lok Sabha.
Sukhbir questioned Congress on how can it talk about corruption when the party itself is "selling tickets" to aspiring contestants for Lok Sabha polls.
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said that "Congress did not give him ticket from any Lok Sabha seat...the PM is also missing from canvassing in favour of Congress candidates."
He said that the SAD would not change its candidates on ten seats from where the party is contesting in the state.
Libra will campaign for SAD candidate Kulwant Singh from Fatehgarh Sahib. Sukhbir said that Libra had returned to Akali Dal without any condition. He rejected contention that Libra was an "opportunist."
Sukhbir claimed that several other Congress leaders were in touch with him to make their entry into SAD.
On being questioned about the high-profile contest from Amritsar seat involving BJP leader Arun Jaitley and Congress candidate Amarinder Singh, Sukhbir said there is "no contest at all...its just a hype."
"Amarinder holds a roadshow at Amritsar 15 days after being declared as candidate, he then vanishes from the city...he is not a serious candidate and has rather been forced to contest by the Congress. His attendance in Vidhan Sabha is miserable. Fielding Amarinder is an insult of the people of Amritsar," he said.
On SAD's support to Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) in Haryana putting the BJP on a tight spot as the party is in fray after forging alliance with Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), Sukhbir said that "we made it clear well in advance to the BJP about our support to INLD."
"INLD is our old ally and one of the candidate Charanjit Singh sitting SAD MLA is contesting on INLD ticket from Sirsa seat," he said.
He said that SAD's efforts to convince BJP to forge a pre-poll alliance with the INLD did not materialise.
He however did not rule out possibility of alliance
of INLD with the BJP ahead of assembly polls in Haryana
later this year.