Ready to review PCC list, says Shakeel Ahmed
Chandigarh: Rattled by a revolt-like crisis in the Punjab Congress, the party high command finally stepped in on Saturday to defuse the situation, offering to have a relook at the controversial organisational list that has triggered a wave of dissenting voices and protest resignations by party leaders since its release a week ago.
AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed, who is also in charge of the Congress affairs in Punjab, told Hindustan Times that the party was ready to address the grievances and issues being raised by a section of Congress leaders unhappy with the freshly constituted Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC).
The belated damage-control, initiated by Ahmed, comes in the wake of the rebellious voices against Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa, who has come under fire for "ignoring merit and seniority" in the jumbo 300-plus list of office-bearers announced to galvanise the party ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
Bajwa has especially drawn the ire of front-ranking leaders, including Capt Amarinder Singh, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Jagmeet Brar, who publicly accused the Gurdaspur MP of not consulting them and misleading the high command. All senior dissenters have since apprised the central leaders of the brewing rebellion against Bajwa.
"We are open to reviewing the list and even ready for deliberations in case some Congressmen are dissatisfied with the current PCC list. There is always a room for improvement only if we are ready to sit together and negotiate," Ahmed said.
However, Ahmed defended Bajwa and advised the dissenters to meet the latter to redress their grievances - a clear indication that the high command is unlikely to directly intervene, at least for now. "Those who are not satisfied can go to the Punjab Congress president. If he is unable to persuade them, they can come to me to redress the specific issue," he added.
In a typical carrot-and-stick approach, Ahmed also warned the state Congressmen against indulging in gross indiscipline by openly condemning the party leadership in the media for the PCC list.
"Everyone has the right to feel dissatisfied. But, instead of going to the media, they should raise such issues at the party forum. The list has been cleared by the AICC and Bajwa alone is not responsible for its formation."
Ahmed said the party high command would set up a disciplinary committee soon. In case the Congressmen did not stop publicly airing their views against their own leadership, they would invite disciplinary action, said Ahmed.
Bajwa's first challenge after succeeding Amarinder in March last year was to have a fair representation of all sections in the new PCC body. However, it took him nearly 10 months before coming out with an unwieldy 320-member list that has since run into a controversy and provoked dissenting outbursts. In fact, the disgruntled voices mostly came from the party leaders who have been inducted into the body rather than from those who have been left out.
Bajwa, when contacted, said he was still of the view that if any Congress member had any reservation on the PPCC list, it could be hammered out after sitting together. "If the members feel there are shortcomings and anomalies in the list, these could be removed," he added.