Take loyality pledges from politicians with a pinch of salt.
Many Congressmen who once submitted affidavits of loyalty have turned rebel independent candidates.
“I hereby take a pledge that if not selected for any constituency, I will not contest against any of the Congress candidates,” reads one declaration of the kind that was sought from more than 1,500 ticket seekers before the ticket-application process in 117 assembly segments.
For the revolt, the rebels have own justification. “Yes, I gave the undertaking but I cannot keep my promise,” is a common answer.
“I had to take this harsh decision,” said rebel Sukhjinder Raj Singh “Lalli Majithia”, 54. “The Congress is finished in Majitha, if I don’t contest. I rose from the ranks, held numerous posts in the party, applied for ticket six times, was allotted once. My case is different.”
Thursday was the last day of filing nomination, and 16 or more Congress rebels may have entered the contest. The deadline for the withdrawal of nomination is January 16, and last-ditch effort is on to reach out to rebels.
“They (rebels) will realise that they have given an undertaking and now the party decision is binding on them,” Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress president, told HT.
“Public will not spare them,” said Gulchain Singh Charak, in charge of the Punjab affairs in the Congress.
“They pledged not to oppose official nominees. Now they do all this,” he said.
The Congress is facing rebellion in more than 30 constituencies.
The party’s central leadership has sent general secretary BK Hari Prashad and Charak to placate the rebels. Charak flew to Delhi on Thursday to brief senior leaders. “I’ll be back on Friday,” he said.
“Everybody is working to manage dissidence,” said captain Amarinder Singh.
“I’m convinced rebels will withdraw from the contest,” he said.
The back-channel diplomacy has brought back 15 frontline rebels, and 30-odd second rung dissidents such as councillors etc. have been “sized up”. “Continuing to rebel will invite action,” said Amarinder.