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HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Amritsar, October 13, 2012
Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency in-charge of Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) Vikas Soni was suspended on Saturday for allegedly allowing a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) "supporter" to be present at AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi's meeting here on Wednesday.
Vikas is the nephew of Amritsar Central Congress MLA OP Soni. "We first issued a showcause notice and then placed Soni under suspension, pending an inquiry to ascertain the facts about the presence of SAD supporter Paramjit Chopra at the meeting addressed by Gandhi," PYC chief Vikram Chaudhary said. "Chopra's name on the list of PYC functionaries for the meeting was cleared by Soni in his capacity as the in-charge of Amritsar parliamentary constituency."

Chaudhary said the inquiry was being conducted as Chopra claimed that he never joined the SAD and was still a member of the PYC and in-charge of the Amritsar South constituency.

"Chopra claims that during the municipal corporation polls in June, some SAD leaders forcibly took him to a party MLA of the city and got photographs clicked of the MLA putting a siropa around Chopra's neck," said Chaudhary, referring to Chopra's clarification after Soni was issued the showcause notice on Thursday.

According to local PYC sources, on the day of the meeting, Soni's "detractors" brought the presence of the SAD supporter to the notice of Youth Congress leaders, who accompanied Gandhi from Delhi.

When Gandhi learnt of the matter in Chandigarh the same evening, he directed Chaudhary to initiate action against those responsible for the lapse.

Being the PYC Amritsar in-charge and as the main organiser of the meeting, Soni was held responsible. On Thursday, photos appeared in the media showing Soni presenting a replica of the Golden Temple to Gandhi.

Soni could not be contacted, but his aide questioned the suspension, claiming that Chaudhary and others were aware of Chopra's presence at least a day prior to the meeting.

On condition of anonymity, the aide said Chopra had been a regular visitor to BR Resorts, the venue of the meeting and was active during preparations for the meeting.

"Why did Chaudhary and the other leaders not object then to Chopra's presence," he asked. "All this happened only to settle scores, but the truth will emerge after the enquiry."