Voices of dissent are getting shriller against Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Partap Singh Bajwa. As many as 24 Congress MLAs besides other party leaders on Tuesday asked Bajwa to resign and own responsibility for the Congress’s poll debacle in Punjab.
Claiming that these legislators had joined hands on the issue, PPCC vice-president Kewal Singh Dhillon demanded Bajwa’s resignation. He questioned the defence being put up by Bajwa for the defeat of the party in the state under his leadership.
He said Bajwa got defeated from all assembly constituencies in Gurdaspur and the vote share of the Congress had come down from 43.5% in the 2012 assembly polls to 33%.
“Despite a strong antiincumbency wave against the SAD-BJP gover nment in the state, the Congress could win only three seats,” said Dhillon, adding that Bajwa did not come out of Gurdaspur to campaign for other candidates and should take moral responsibility for the defeat.
Joining Dhillon, MLA Gurkirat Singh Kotli said Bajwa should take responsibility for the party’s defeat at a time when it was perceived that the Congress would win all 13 seats. incumbency sentiment against the SAD-BJP government.
“We must look for reasons as to why we failed to translate the anti-incumbency against the state government into our victory; for sure, there was a leadership gap because there was no support from the party for the contesting candidates,” said Kotli. “When AICC vicepresident Rahul Gandhi has offered to resign, Bajwa should also show grace and resign from the presidentship of the state unit,” demanded MLA Jagmohan Singh Kang, adding that Bajwa projected himself as the chief minister in 2017 but lost his seat.
“It is the Congress tradition that the leader takes the responsibility and offers to quit. The Cong ress, having eight MPs elected in the 2009 parliamentary polls, has been reduced to the third spot behind AAP,” said Dhillon, adding that while AAP was wiped out throughout India, because of the poor leadership of Bajwa Punjab had failed to capitalise on the strong anti-incumbency sentiment against the SAD-BJP government.
Bajwa, when contacted, said he didn’t want to join issue with those demanding his resignation. “I am answerable to the party high command and not to those demanding my resignation,” Bajwa said, adding that those raising fingers at him should talk about their performance first. He said he would talk to the party high command and discuss the poll-related performance of every MLA. Bajwa is camping in Delhi and is expected to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday.