A new war of words broke out in the Punjab Congress on Friday, a day after disciplinary notices were issued to two legislators who asked Partap Singh Bajwa to quit as its president after a poor show in the Lok Sabha elections.
On Friday, Punjab Congress disciplinary committee chairman GK Chatrath accused former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh of encouraging indiscipline by his open support to state party vice presidents Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi and Kewal Singh Dhillon for their outburst.
Amarinder, meanwhile, defended them and 60 other state Congressmen joined the chorus against the “gag order”.
“I’m surprised to see Amarinder coming out openly against the disciplinary committee that none other than the Congress high command has formed.
My job is to instill discipline in the party. What wrong have I committed if I have issued show-cause notices to leaders who spoke publicly against the state leadership?
“They should give me a valid reason for their act. I am not going to hang them,” said Chatrath.
He added that the Congress leaders who have lost in their constituencies by 40,000 votes or more should introspect instead of seeking Bajwa’s head.
“The entire conduct of Amarinder, who has been a chief minister and PPCC president for 17 years, is unfortunate,” he stated.
Reacting to the disciplinary notices to party colleagues, Amritsar parliamentarian Amarinder Singh said Sodhi and Dhillon, besides 22 other legislators, had only voiced the popular sentiment of the party in Punjab, for which they could not be blamed for indiscipline.
Amarinder, also a member of Congress Working Committee (CWC), said the notices were “desperate attempts by the PPCC (Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee) leadership” to silence this opinion.
He said the Congress was a democratic party where every opinion mattered. “The chairman of the disciplinary action committee, instead of applying own mind, appears to be taking diktats from those to whom he owes his position,” he said, without naming Partap Singh Bajwa.
Amarinder said the Congress convention was that anyone who led the party to defeat tendered resignation and it was up to the party high-command to accept or not.
He referred to how he had submitted his resignation in 2012, like Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan and Tarun Gogoi in Assam had done now.
“Why is Bajwa sticking to his chair and, when reminded about the Congress convention, taking refuge behind the disciplinary action committee?” he said.
Besides 24 legislators, including Sodhi and Dhillon, the PPCC office-bearers and district presidents also questioned the disciplinary notices on Friday.