In the disciplinary panel of the Punjab Congress, indiscipline begins at home. At least two members of the five-member committee are openly accusing committee chairman Gopal Krishan Chatrath of acting “unilaterally” while issuing show-cause notices, one of the members has never attended any meeting and the panel itself has only met twice since it was constituted two years ago to stem open dissent against Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa after reconstitution of the state executive.
Of the four members of the panel, two — former minister Gurkanwal Kaur and former legislator Bhag Singh — have accused Chatrath of bypassing them. The third — former deputy speaker Jaswant Singh — has marked his presence at the meetings while the fourth — former Punjab Youth Congress president Rana Varinder Singh — has not been seen at any of the meetings.
After Bhag Singh accused Chatrath of doing bidding of Bajwa by issuing show-cause notices to leaders close to former Punjab chief minister and Amritsar member of Parliament Captain Amarinder Singh, former MLA from Jalandhar Gurkanwal Kaur has accused Chatrath of not informing other committee members.
“I asked Chatrath about show-cause notices issued by him on June 30 to MLA Karan Brar, former MLA Jagbir Brar and party general secretary Satnam Kainth. He said there is a clause which authorises him to take decisions on our behalf. Why are members needed if any decision has not to be even conveyed to us,” Gurkanwal told HT. She then trained her guns on Amarinder and Jagbir Brar, who was given the Congress ticket from the Jalandhar Cantt constituency in the 2012 polls ignoring her claim.
“Jagbir did not bother to even invite me or my family for the rally at Jalandhar Cantt, a constituency represented by my late father, former CM Beant Singh, my brother Tej Prakash and me. Are they holding rallies to strengthen the party? Jagbir had joined the Congress only to bag a ticket and yet lost the election. He is being promoted at the cost of a family which has sacrificed so much for the party. Amarinder is not a child that he could not ask Brar how to behave. I will bring this to the notice of party president Sonia Gandhi,” she added.
Bhag Singh is quick to point out instances of indiscipline by the panel head. “Chatrath had first unilaterally issued show-cause notices to MLAs Kewal Dhillon and Rana Gurmeet Sodhi for not attending campaign of Sangrur candidate Vijay Inder Singla and Bajwa’s seat of Gurdaspur, respectively, during the Lok Sabha polls when they had already sought exemption from party president Sonia Gandhi. Now, he has again issued notices to three leaders. If people attend Amarinder’s rally and not Bajwa’s, it cannot be taken as indiscipline,” he said.
Interestingly, the only meeting the panel held to take collective action was during the Lok Sabha polls to suspend Youth Congress leader Sukhwinder Danny for filing his nomination papers from Faridkot against the party’s official candidate.
Danny was asked to appear in person before Chatrath and his suspension was later revoked by Bajwa. While under suspension, he had campaigned for Amarinder’s wife Preneet Kaur in the Patiala bypoll.