New Delhi/Amritsar/Kolkata, April 26:
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he felt “very sad” at his step-brother joining the BJP even as his family literally got divided between the opposition party and the Congress, with another step-brother joining the Congress road show of party candidate Amarinder Singh in Amritsar Saturday.
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the Padma awards function in New Delhi, he said to a query: “I feel very sad. But I have no control over what others do. They are adults.”
In Amritsar, just a day after the BJP embarrassed the Congress and Manmohan Singh by inducting Daljit, another step-brother, Surjit Singh Kohli, an entrepreneur, joined the Congress road show with Amarinder, who is contesting the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat against senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley.
Daljit had joined the BJP and shared the dais with BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi during an election rally here Friday evening.
“Today, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s brother Daljeet Singh has joined the BJP. This will further strengthen us. We are not a membership party. We form blood relations,” Modi said in Amritsar while welcoming Kohli into the BJP fold with a warm hug on the dais.
Daljit’s entry into the BJP fold was played up by the BJP leadership here, especially by Jaitley who is facing a tough fight against Amarinder, a former chief minister
Daljit, a textile exporter with no political background earlier, had told media that he joined the BJP as he was upset about the way that Manmohan Singh was treated by the Congress.
The prime minister’s family members had Friday expressed shock at Daljit’s “extremely wrong” and “shameful” decision to join the BJP.
His nephew Mandeep Singh told reporters in Amritsar Friday: “The whole family is shocked to learn of Daljitji’s decision. We have been associated with the Congress from the very beginning and will remain faithful to them always. What he has done is extremely wrong. This is shameful and should not have been done.”
Hitting out at the BJP for showcasing its new recruit, Daljit, the Congress said it did not go overboard when former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s niece quit the BJP and joined its fold.
“I don’t think this is something you need to hawk politically. But since the BJP is trying to hawk it politically, let me say that we didn’t go to town when Vajpayee’s niece joined us,” Congress national spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told reporters in Kolkata.
“…Vajpayee’s niece was much more in active politics, and was a sitting MLA,” Singhvi said about Karuna Shukla.
Shukla ended her 32-year association with the BJP last year and joined the Congress in February slamming Modi and alleging that a “special group” now occupied the BJP with the end of the Vajpayee era.
In a barb at the functioning of the PMO when Vajpayee was the prime minister (1998-2004), Singhvi said Manmohan Singh had always kept relatives at a “bargepole distance”.
“As far as we know, the prime minister of this country has been exemplary – and let me be very clear, totally unlike the previous PMO, that is the PMO of 1999-2004 – in keeping every relative at a bargepole distance,” he said.
Manmohan Singh had studied in Amritsar after his father’s family migrated there from western Punjab following the partition in August 1947.