Former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Saturday said that Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa should come clean on his land deals lest they bring a bad name to the party.
Referring to Bajwa's purchase of shamlat (panchayat) land in villages of Mohali district, Amarinder told reporters, "Either he should prove that he (Bajwa) has done no wrong or return the land." If dubious, the land deals would bring a bad name to the Congress, he said after receiving a rousing reception from party workers in Ropar, Kharar, Morinda and Balachaur.
Asked about Bajwa remaining the state Congress president despite the controversy, he said that retaining or removing him from the post was the prerogative of the party high command. "The high command is getting all the reports," he added.
Amarinder, who is a permanent invitee to the Congress Working Committee, however, sees no role for himself in defending Bajwa. Describing the deals as Bajwa's personal matter, he said, "Moreover, he has never taken his party into confidence. He is trying to run away from the issue. He should have told senior leaders in case he was being wrongfully targeted."
Earlier this week, Punjab revenue minister Bikram Majithia wanted the cancellation of the registry of 108 bighas (27 acres) of land bought by Bajwa at Bhronjian village of Mohali district on the grounds that income tax and stamp duty had been evaded in its purchase. The registry was also found to be contempt of court as Bajwa had bought the land in 2011 even though the Punjab and Haryana high court had ordered status quo on its ownership in 2004.
Justifying his meeting with party workers, Amarinder said that he wanted all senior leaders, including former MP Jagmeet Singh Brar, former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and former state party president Shamsher Singh Dullo, to play a proactive role with the parliamentary elections approaching. "Bajwa's role is defined. He should handle the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee," he said.
He reiterated that he would continue meeting party workers and would visit Majha, Doaba and Malwa. "I have planned four such tours in a month. I will be going to Ferozepur on November 22," he said.
To recommend candidates Asked about Congress candidates for the parliamentary elections, Amarinder said that Bajwa was the best bet from Gurdaspur. "From Patiala, the party has no choice above Preneet Kaur. She is very hardworking and in touch with the workers," he said of his wife, who was elected for the third consecutive term last time and is the union minister of state for external affairs.
Amarinder said that he would send his recommendation for the party's candidates from all 13 constituencies.