The meeting of the Punjab Congress to corner the Parkash Singh Badal government over the issue of the “insulting remarks” made by Fatehgarh Sahib sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Pooja Syal Grewal against party’s Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra and to gear up for the upcoming municipal committee polls ended with murmurs of revolt against Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa.
Some of the MLAs were unhappy over Bajwa’s “interference in their constituencies without taking them into confidence”.
Though just 29 of the 44 MLAs turned up for the meeting -- four are in the UK to give company to deputy leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh, and Bajwa’s wife Charanjit Kaur was also not present -- the MLAs aired their own grievances after Congress Legislature Party leader Sunil Jakhar addressed mediapersons.
According to party sources, Chamkaur Sahib MLA Charanjit Channi was miffed that the SC cell of the party held a meeting in his constituency without taking him into confidence; while Bajwa’s one-time confidant, Sultanpur Lodhi MLA Navtej Cheema, was upset that a loyalist of his archrival -- Kapurthala MLA Rana Gurjit Singh -- had been appointed to the kisan and khet mazdoor cell of the party by its president, former minister Inderjit Singh Zira. Yet another MLA Ramanjit Sikki was learnt to be unhappy over the religious congregation of Guru Angad Dev at Khadoor Sahib being held without his involvement; and MLA OP Soni over an appointment made by the Beopar Mandal of the party.
Some of the MLAs even wanted that a resolution be moved against the PCC chief so that he stops interfering in their domains, while a few others alleged that Bajwa was adopting the policy of “divide and rule”. It was, however, decided that internal rumblings would portray a divided opposition at a time when the party was trying to corner the SAD-BJP government over several issues before the civic polls.
Bajwa, when contacted, said that all he was doing was under the purview of the PPCC and such “minor irritants” should not be taken seriously. “I was trying to activate the dormant cells of the party in order to galvanise it. If I appoint someone from one group, the rival group becomes unhappy.
Some of these things are not even brought to my notice and people think I was behind them. Half of these things are done without keeping me in the loop. These are minor irritants and not much should be read into them. But they are a constant headache for me. I am left reconciling the differing parties. I have asked Zira to speak to MLA Cheema. I had not only invited Sikki personally but also through a letter. He had expressed his inability to attend the function. We could not have postponed the programme that was held by the district unit of the party,” Bajwa said.
Cong meets speaker, demands privilege motion against SDM
The Congress MLAs led by CLP leader Sunil Jakhar on Tuesday met assembly speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal to demand privilege motion against SDM Pooja Syal Grewal for “insulting” an elected representative of the people. “We have requested the speaker to resolve the issue by calling both the parties so that there is no ambiguity left and such incidents where the bureaucracy belittles MLAs do not take place again. Even the SAD MLAs, who are not the blue-eyed boys of the chief minister or the deputy chief minister, complain that they are ill-treated by the bureaucrats. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal is himself on record saying that the government has to bear the brunt of arrogance, inefficiency and corruption in the bureaucracy,” Jakhar told mediapersons.