Even as Punjab leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar struggles to outwit the ruling benches who are not allowing his party to speak on any issue, drugs or land acquisition bill, state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa has also decided to steal his thunder.
Bajwa had announced a mega rally by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in Punjab this month against the new land acquisition bill and other farmer-centric issues. It could, however, not take off owing to Rahul’s going on a sabbatical.
His fate as state party chief hanging by a thread after reports of an ouster, Bajwa is trying to reclaim the lost ground and also flag the main issue of his mega rally. On Thursday, he issued a press statement that the party would gherao the state assembly, in session currently, on March 24 in protest against the “dilution” of the land acquisition legislation by the Narendra Modi
government at the Centre, in which the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is a partner and has supported the bill in the Lok Sabha.
He said the programme had been finalised in consultation with Jakhar and party general secretary Shakeel Ahmed and secretary Harish Chaudhary. However, when contacted, Jakhar said he was not aware of any such programme. “Nobody has asked me or told me about it,” he said. But he said the Congress president Sonia Gandhi had led the protest against the bill in Delhi and he welcomed the move.
“In the assembly, I have questioned chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s double standards on the issue today. The CM projects his party as pro-farmer but it voted silently in favour of the bill in the Lok Sabha after opposing it publicly. I had sought time from Punjab assembly speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal to debate on the land bill and other issues, including Narendra Modi regime’s declining to fix prices on the basis of the the Swaminathan Committee recommendations, besides the proposed unbundling of the Food Corporation of India (FCI); but we have not been given time,” Jakhar said.
These three issues were also the main plank of Bajwa’s rally and now protest outside the assembly, for which Bajwa said all Congress members of Parliament and legilative assembly, office-bearers and heads of frontal organisations and cells had been asked to mobilise workers.