Swords are out in the Punjab Congress after the Moga assembly byelection defeat.
Responding to the show-cause notice that state Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh has issued to leaders who were absent from the campaign, party legislators Brahm Mohindra and Kaka Randeep Singh have given him a mouthful and raised question over his leadership after consecutive setbacks in the state elections.
Known to be Captain's arch rival, Mohindra, who lives opposite Amarinder's Moti Bagh palace here, has given him a hard-hitting written reply, refuting the charges leveled in the notice, while Kaka Randeep has done the job with his tongue.
In his articulate reply, Mohindra has taken many digs at Captain. The five-time legislator has asked the state Congress president to go into a serious introspection and retrospection why the party lost in 2007 and 2012 under his leadership. In 2002, Mohindra had shifted his constituency from Patiala to Samana to adjust Amarinder, and he reminded him of that.
Mohindra termed the notice a conspiracy. "Your coterie had worked to defeat me in the last state elections and transferred 15,000 votes to the son of an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer," he wrote to Amainder. The brother of a confidant of Amarinder was election agent of Satbir Khatra, son of the IPS officer, who got 21,000 votes as independent candidate.
The critic reminded Captain how in 2007, he had missed election rally in his area "deliberately" and in 2012, "never visited" his constituency for campaign. "Where was your discipline and dedication? Is it not the dereliction of duty on part of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president? But I never complained," wrote Mohindra.
"I am a loyal solider of the party for the past 36 years and not a political turncoat like others," he replied, suggesting that senior leaders in the party felt suffocated under Amarinder's leadership. "I am nobody to give advice but I have a suggestion: don't suffocate your senior colleagues and party MLAs. The Congress already has paid heavily for this. Instead of issuing notices to others, you should issue a notice to yourself for the defeats of 2007 and 2012," he wrote.
Kaka Randeep Singh Nabha confirmed that he had received the notice and said he would give a befitting reply to "the non-performing PPCC president". "Instead of accepting the responsibility for repeated failures of the party, Captain is trying to pass it to others," he said. "It's small thinking from a man of his stature. Party leaders are expected to carry everyone along, while he is destabilising the party," he added.
Avtar Henry and legislator Rakesh Pandey declined to comment, saying they were yet to get any notice. Mohindra, along with legislators Kaka Randeep Singh Nabha (Amloh), Rakesh Pandey (Ludhiana) and former minister Avtar Henry (Jalandhar), was served show-cause notice for being absent in the Moga campaign.