Punjab Congress affairs incharge Gulchain Singh Charak on Wednesday told senior party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to immediately stop her public outburst against her party colleagues. He said Bhattal's tirade not only amounted to indiscipline but would also create more complications within the party, which was already feeling battered after the assembly poll debacle.
Charak had summoned several Punjab Congress leaders to New Delhi on Wednesday for a meeting at the party headquarters (24 Akbar Road), including state party chief Capt Amarinder Singh, former Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa, union minister Ashwini Kumar, former MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira and MLA Randeep Singh Nabha after some of them made disparaging remarks and held each other responsible for the party's humiliating defeat at the hands of the SAD-BJP alliance.
Charak told Hindustan Times that he had asked Bhattal to refrain from making statements in the media against her own party men. "It not only creates indiscipline within the party cadre but also projects the Congress in a poor light among the people," said Charak.
Charak said he was indisposed and hence had asked the party leaders to meet him at his official residence in South Avenue.
Charak also asked Bhattal to deliberate upon the reasons behind the Congress' defeat in the state polls and make valuable suggestions so that the party rank and file could be strengthened to take on the SAD-BJP alliance in the 2014 parliamentary polls.
Bhattal, who went to meet Charak at 10:30am instead of the meeting's official time (3pm), discussed various other issues with the latter for nearly one-and-a-half hours.
"I wanted to discuss several other party issues with Charak, but could not do so as he was not well," said Bhattal. However, she said it was not the end of the matter as the pending issues could be taken up with Charak in the coming days.
Charak also held a closed-door meeting with newly-appointed CLP leader Sunil Jakhar for more than one hour at his residence. Though Jakhar was not summoned for the meeting, he reached Charak's house at 3pm.
Jakhar later revealed that Charak asked for his suggestions to strengthen the party in Punjab.
On Tuesday, Charak also held detailed discussions with AICC spokesman and party MP from Ludhiana Manish Tewari and sought his advice on the changes to be brought in the Punjab Congress.
Interestingly, other Congress leaders failed to make it to the meeting. Some of them would meet Charak on Thursday, including Bajwa and Nabha.
Bajwa and Khaira said they had learnt that the meeting was cancelled since Charak was indisposed. "But since he is holding one-to-one meetings with other party leaders, I will also meet him on Thursday," said Bajwa.
Charak, however, downplayed the matter when asked why Congress leaders chose to stay away from the meeting, which he had called after many of them publicly blamed each other for the defeat.
"I told them that they could come and meet me any time. Probably, they might have come to know about my ill-health and rescheduled their visit to Delhi," said Charak.