Punjab Congress fault lines widen

Former Union Minister and Congress leader Manish Tewari.   | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

The turmoil in the Punjab Congress resurfaced on social media on Sunday, with Lok Sabha member Manish Tewari describing the party’s situation in Punjab as a “chaotic daily soap opera” while Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Navjot Singh Sidhu asserted that he wouldn’t let the political discourse to deviate from “real issues”.

“ my 40 years plus in @INCIndia I have never seen such chaos & anarchy as what is playing out in @INCPunjab today. Repeated open defiance of AICC [All India Congress Committee] by a PCC President, colleagues squabbling publicly with each other like children,” Mr. Tewari tweeted on Sunday.

“For the past 5 months it is @INCPunjab versus @INCPunjab. Do we think that people of Punjab are not disgusted by this daily soap opera? Irony is that those who complained loudest of transgressions & aberrations were unfortunately & continue to be worst offenders themselves,” he added.

Tweets from Mr. Tewari, known to be close to former Chief Minister Captain (Retd.) Amarinder Singh, came in response to an interview by the AICC’s former Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat’s in which Mr. Rawat claimed that Capt. (Retd) Amarinder was replaced because the MLAs were restless. and that leaders like Mr. Tewari didn't fully “understand the ground realities”.

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The Lok Sabha MP also said that history would record the work of the Committee (Mallikarjun Kharge-headed panel) to address grievances of the MLAs as “a serious error of judgement”.

“Where is progress on the issues that agitated these MLA’s & other eminences — Bargari, Drugs, Power PPA’s, illegal sand mining. Has there been any movement forward,” asked Mr. Tewari.

His outburst comes at a time when Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Capt. (Retd) Amarinder are engaged in a bitter public spat over the latter’s friendship with a Pakistani national, Aroosa Alam.

Without directly referring to it, Mr Sidhu tweeted, “Punjab must come back to its real issues that concern every punjabi and our future generations. How will we counter the financial emergency that stares upon us ? I will stick to the real issues and not let them take a backseat!”

Also read: Punjab turmoil snowballs into major crisis for Congress

“The choice is clear between irreparable damage and the last chance for damage control. Who will bring back State’s resources to the State’s coffers, instead of them going to private pockets ? Who will lead the initiative for resurrection our great state to prosperity !!” asked the Punjab Congress chief in another tweet.

Apart from trying to tone down the personal attacks, Mr Sidhu also clearly tried to steer the discourse back to the leadership question.

The issue of who will lead the Congress if the party retains power in the next year's Assembly polls has become a contentious question. Though incumbent Chief Minister, Charanjit Singh Channi, was chosen as a compromise candidate after the faction-ridden state unit had failed to arrive at a consensus leader to replace Capt Amarinder, the party was quick to convert it into a “political masterstroke”.

Mr. Channi is the first Scheduled Caste (SC) Chief Minister in a State where SCs make up over 30% of the population and the Congress portrayed the move as the party's commitment towards “empowering Dalits”.

And after former party chief Rahul Gandhi endorsed Mr Channi's appointment at the October 16 meet of the Congress Working Committee (CWC), Mr Sidhu was prompted to post his letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on his twitter handle.

The four page letter, dated October 15, was ostensibly to seek an audience with her to explain his ‘Punjab Model’ but it was intended to underscore his importance in the last Assembly elections.

“Under your esteemed leadership, Congress Party won a 2/3rd majority in 2017 Assembly Elections, campaigning upon a Pro-People Agenda to give democratic and economic powers of the People back to the People. I personally campaigned in 55 Assembly Constituencies, among which we won 53, arguing for a Punjab Model of Development, according to which the rightful resources of the State should come back to the State, instead of going to private pockets,” Mr Sidhu wrote to Ms Gandhi, adding his model was “ Punjab's last chance for resurrection and redemption”.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 12:29:46 PM |

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