Former MP Lal Singh gets rousing reception in Jammu after rejoining Congress

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Jammu: Hundreds of workers on Thursday gave a rousing reception to former MP and former minister Lal Singh on his arrival here after rejoining the Congress and expressed confidence that the party will win both the seats in Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh, 65, who hails from Kathua district, rejoined the Congress at its headquarters in Delhi on Wednesday amid speculations that he will be fielded against BJP minister Jitendra Singh from the Udhampur parliamentary constituency which is going to polls in the first phase on April 19.

Flanked by his wife and former legislator Kanta Andotra, and J-K Congress working president Raman Bhalla, Lal Singh was received by the workers and leaders of the party amid beats of drums and showering of flowers.

“It (his joining Congress) is not enthusiasm but a change in Jammu and Kashmir. It is a big change to boost the forces fighting BJP in Jammu and Kashmir,” Lal Singh told reporters soon after his arrival from New Delhi.

He claimed that the Congress will win both the seats of Jammu and Udhampur.

“I am confident to win from Udhampur seat. After becoming a two-time MP and minister, it is unfortunate that he has done nothing”, he said.

Hitting out at the BJP, he said unemployment is at a high level in the Union Territory amid increase in the level of crime.

“There is rampant drug menace and youth are being destroyed due to unbridled drug addiction”, he said.

Lal Singh also announced the merger of his outfit, Dogra Swabhiman Sangathan Party (DSSP), with the Congress.

While Lal Singh was the founder chairman of the DSSP, his wife Kanta was its president.

He is a two-time former member of Parliament from Udhampur seat in 2004 and 2009. He was also the health minister and the forest minister in Jammu and Kashmir. He represented Basohli in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly in 1996 and 2002.

While the Congress welcomed Lal Singh’s return to its fold, several leaders, including former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad questioned the grand old party for inducting him, alleging that he stood in support of the Kathua rape accused in the past.

Several months before the fall of the J-K government, Lal Singh had resigned from the BJP and floated the DSSP following uproar over his participation in a rally in support of the accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua in January 2018.

However, he defended his participation in the rally, stating that he was there to “defuse the situation”.

On November 7 last year, he was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in connection with a money laundering case against an educational trust run by his wife. However, he was released on bail three weeks after his arrest.

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