Captain Amarinder Singh, as president of the Punjab Congress, had cautioned party chief Sonia Gandhi against appointment of Partap Singh Bajwa as his successor on the grounds of the Gurdaspur MP's alleged "involvement" in gold and drug smuggling and "terror links".
The Captain's startling allegations against Bajwa are contained in a confidential three-page letter he wrote to Gandhi in July last year. Hindustan Times has accessed the letter in which Amarinder had also requested her to "have these facts verified from our central intelligence sources".
Bajwa, according to Amarinder's letter, "has been known to be indulging in smuggling along the border; earlier, it was gold and more recently, narcotics". It also alleged that Bajwa had been reported to be trading in fake currency.
Amarinder's letter bomb has come to light at a time when Bajwa has announced an agitation next week, pegged to Congress's demand for a CBI inquiry into the sensational allegations by arrested druglord Jagdish Singh Bhola incriminating powerful Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia as the "mastermind of drug mafia". Striking a contrary stand, Amarinder has stridently opposed his own party's demand for handing over the probe to the central investigating agency, stating that not letting the Punjab police finish the probe would only benefit criminals and vested interests.
In the letter, Amarinder said he as chief minister of Punjab was aware of these charges against Bajwa and was sure the Akalis were too. He had also reportedly sounded a cautionary note to Sonia, apprehending the Congress would be vulnerable if Bajwa was made the state Congress chief.
The letter also made a damning reference to Bajwa's alleged terror links. Quoting a national magazine, the letter went on to allege that Bajwa himself was in touch with terrorists during the dark period of Punjab. It added that Bajwa's father Satnam Singh Bajwa, a former Congress minister, was not killed by terrorists but in an inter-gang rivalry of smugglers in 1987.
It's clear that the high command didn't lend any credence to Amarinder's charges against Bajwa and went ahead with the latter's elevation as the state Congress chief in March last year. A part of Amarinder's letter referring to Bajwa's alleged terror links was reported in a national English daily in June last year. Bajwa had rubbished the charges or the existence of any such letter.
Contacted on Saturday night by Hindustan Times on the alleged letter, Amarinder refused to entertain any question on the matter. "I am not supposed to reveal any confidential communication with my party president," he said.
Bajwa too refused to react to the said letter. On whether he feared that the Punjab Police might try to implicate opposition leaders, he said he did not want to get into such controversies. "I do not want to comment on any such thing. My stand for a CBI probe is the party line and has been endorsed by the All India Congress Committee," he added.