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Sunday, January 05, 2014

Mass Resignations Makes Punjab Congress In Jittery

By Jaspreet Kaur | Amritsar

The Congress party met with a humiliating defeat in the recent Delhi Assembly polls managing just eight seats. Its faction-ridden counterpart in Punjab seems to be speeding to meet a similar fate.

Though infighting is not new to the Punjab Congress unit, the party seems to be now falling apart. Punjab Congress President Partap Singh Bajwa’s attempt to end infighting by constituting a jumbo 320-member state body has backfired with senior leaders raising the banner of revolt against him.
They have accused Bajwa of favouritism while selecting candidates for the newly constituted state body. A dozen of the newly elected members have resigned alleging he has turned it into a “Bajwa Limited Company”.

Fatehgarh Churian MLA Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa wrote to Bajwa and resigned as member of the executive committee. Former ministers Rakesh Pandey, Malkit Singh Birmi, Ghanaur MLA Madan Lal Jalalpur, PPCC Tarantaran secretary Dharamveer Agnihotri and PPCC Pathankot secretary Davinder Singh Arshi sent their resignations to party president Sonia Gandhi. In their letters, they alleged Bajwa was promoting greenhorns and the wealthy over dedicated party workers.

Similarly, citing favouritism, newly appointed secretary Jagdarshan Kaur Dharamkot, former MLA Vijay Sathi, Ex-DCC president Col. Babu Singh (Retd) and SGPC member Sukhjit Singh Kaka Lohgarh have also faxed their resignations to Gandhi.

Kharar MLA Jagmohan Singh Kang has threatened to resign from the post of general secretary of the PPCC saying Bajwa ignored merit and seniority in the party while selecting him for the aforesaid position. Kang said he was one of the main contenders for the post of Punjab Pradesh Congress president, but Bajwa deliberately placed him at a junior position. He added he would quit as the general secretary after meeting the Delhi high command.

The Ropar unit is also simmering with discontent.  Anandpur Sahib MP Ravneet Singh Bittu said that the PPCC list required a rethink. Punjab Mahila Congress president Malti Thapar has already shot off a letter to AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi and AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed accusing Bajwa of ignoring women candidates in the list.

Former CM and Punjab Congress president Capt. Amarinder Singh also did not miss out this opportunity to criticise his old opponent. “It is for the first time that such revolt has happened against the PPCC president. I will apprise Sonia Gandhi why the workers are so unhappy despite such a jumbo state body,” he said.

“Bajwa never consulted any of us (state leadership) before making the list and getting it approved from party high command, he misguided the high command and state leaders as well,” said former CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

In a state assembly of 117 members, the Congress, which has been in the opposition in the state for the past 10 years, has just 46 MLAs. Out of 13 Lok Sabha seats from Punjab, at present just six are occupied by Congress. Many fear they would lose these numbers as well if in-fighting in the state unit continues. The man in the eye of the storm, Bajwa, however maintained those unhappy with their posts should approach him with their grievances instead of going public and has convened a meeting of office bearers on January 6 to sort out disputes.

“The decision on the PPCC list was taken after lengthy discussions with different groups and with the approval of party president Sonia Gandhi and Shakeel Ahmed who is in charge of party affairs. But we are still open to discussions at the party forum,” he said.
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