The Punjab Congress is again heading for a collision course. A day before Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh is to launch his state tour from Jalandhar, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) headed by Partap Singh Bajwa slapped show-cause notices on three of his loyalists for “deliberately acting in a calculative way to defy the party and lower its prestige”.
The three leaders who have been issued notices by Congress state disciplinary committee head Gopal Krishan Chatrath include Jalandhar district party unit (rural) president Jagbir Brar, who is organising Amarinder’s rally in Jalandhar on Wednesday. In separate notices, Jagbir Brar and PPCC general secretary Satnam Kaith have been asked to explain their absence from Adampur constituency during Bajwa’s mass contact programme on June 12. The third notice has been shot off to Muktsar MLA Karan Brar for her purported statement to a TV channel that she would join Amarinder if he floats a new party.
The Amarinder camp reacted to the notices with defiance. A Captain loyalist, MLA Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, issued a statement officially announcing the campaign and saying that the Jalandhar rally was being organised by Jagbir Brar, adding that 12 such meetings would be organised across the state. The Captain camp questioned the “timing and motive” of the move, saying that it was being done deliberately on the eve of the launch of Amarinder’s campaign.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary in-charge for Punjab affairs Shakeel Ahmad said he had given the PPCC the go-ahead for issuing the show-cause notices. “Bajwa had written to me about the acts of indiscipline by the three leaders. I checked the complaint and found merit in it. Since the three are not members of the AICC, I asked the PPCC to issue them show-cause notices. We will take action after receiving their reply,” Ahmad told HT.
Again expressing ignorance about Captain’s programme, he said Amarinder had neither made a statement announcing it nor informed them. “We have no information about the programme. I cannot object to a party leader’s tour for meeting party workers and people, unless something is said against state or central Congress leaders or the party’s established principles and policies,” he added.
Chatrath said the actions of the three leaders were not only deliberate but also calculative. “I have asked them to reply within 15 days, failing which action will be taken by the committee unilaterally,” he said.
The notice to Karan Brar says she made a statement about leaving the Congress to join Amarinder in case he forms a separate party. “You hail from a family of committed Congressmen. It is because of your association with the Congress that you and your son were able to get the party ticket. Your statement is not only deliberate but also calculative and defies party discipline,” it adds.
When contacted, Karan Brar said she had been misquoted and had never said that she would leave the party.
Interestingly, the notices to Jagbir Brar and Kainth also mention the exact time they were told in person and through SMS about Bajwa’s programme in their area. It
adds that Bajwa also called them but still they “disregarded and disobeyed the PPCC”.