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SAD (Longowal) merges with Cong in Punjab

Seeking to consolidate all anti-Akali forces in Punjab, Congress on Sunday got a shot in the arm with Akali splinter group Shiromani Akali Dal (Longowal) headed by former chief minister Surjit Singh Barnala’s wife formally merging with it.

Announcing the “unconditional” merger in the presence of senior Congress leaders, Punjab Congress President Amarinder Singh said this will strengthen the party ahead of 2017 assembly polls in the state, where Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP is also surging ahead and could spoil Congress’ prospects.

“The SAD (Longowal) headed by Surjit Kaur Barnala has decided to unanimously merge their party with Congress. I welcome them in the Congress. This will give us much greater strength,” he said in her presence.

Senior Congress leaders Ambika Soni and Shakeel Ahmed, who is incharge of party affairs in Punjab, were also present, besides SAD(L) leaders Gaganjit Singh Barnala and Baldev Mann.

Amarinder Singh said the Barnala family has been at the forefront of Punjab politics and former chief minister Surjit Singh Barnala has also contributed his lifetime for the state and its people.

Barnala is the former Governor of Tamil Nadu, Uttarakhand, Andhra Pradesh and Andaman and Nicobar Islands and an ex-Union Minister. Barnala had been with Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, who had inked the famous Rajiv-Longowal accord to bring peace in Punjab during the troubled days of militancy.
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