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HindustanTimes Tue,21 Oct 2014

Infighting hampers Bajwa's mass-contact plan in Ludhiana

Ravinder Vasudeva , Hindustan Times  Ludhiana, October 14, 2013
First Published: 22:12 IST(14/10/2013) | Last Updated: 22:12 IST(14/10/2013)

Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa's plan to hold his mass-contact programme in the industrial city has repeatedly hit a roadblock due to the ongoing tussle between Congress MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu and District Congress Committee (DCC, urban) chief Pawan Dewan.

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Bajwa had launched his statewide programme on July 16, under which he is scheduled to visit all 117 assembly segments of Punjab.

Dewan, a close aide of union information and broadcasting minister and local MP Manish Tewari, had got the Congress ticket from Ludhiana West segment in the 2012 assembly elections. However, the ticket was then allotted to Ashu, who went on to win by more than 35,000 votes.

The PPCC chief's visit was first scheduled for August 21, but it was postponed to September 14, then September 28 and September 29. October is almost half over, but the visit is yet to take place.

On August 21, Ashu had gone on a trip to Vaishno Devi and had objected to Bajwa's visit in his absence.

When contacted, Ashu said, "Only the PPCC chief and Pawan Dewan can tell you the reasons behind the postponement of Bajwa's visits. I am here to welcome our state party chief whenever he wants to come, but at least I should have information prior to his visit."

Dewan said the issue had been blown out of proportion. "The visit was cancelled a few times since the Ludhiana MP was not available on those dates. The state party chief has put off his mass-contact programme for October due to the paddy procurement season. In November, he will cover all segments of Ludhiana Urban," he said.

A senior Congress leader said, "It's a Catch-22 situation for Bajwa. He cannot ignore Ashu, who is strongly placed in Ludhiana West constituency, but at the same time, he is not ready to rub Tewari the wrong way, owing to the latter's influence with the party high command."

Sources in the state Congress said PPCC vice-president and Chamkaur Sahib MLA Charanjeet Channi, who looks after affairs of Ludhiana district, had apprised Bajwa of the infighting.

When contacted, Channi said, "Everybody knows the ground reality. Even you know better than me. For the party's sake, I will not comment. The PPCC chief can answer your question."

Bajwa was not available for comment despite repeated attempts.

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