Phillaur MLA Avinash Chandar, who was “set” to join the Congress on November 29 after resigning from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), has been left in the lurch with Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday tweeting that Avinash was not joining the party.
The tweet in which Captain terms reports regarding the Dalit leader joining the Congress as mere speculation has not only put the MLA in no man’s land, but also caused him embarrassment as it was Avinash himself who had announced that he would join the party on November 29.
Dalit leaders in the Congress claim that the PPCC chief was “compelled” to clarify his stand as his move to “unilaterally” induct former minister and five-time MLA Sarwan Singh Phillaur, facing Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigation in Bhola drug racket case, into the party, met with a huge opposition.
“Captain first inducted Phillaur. Now he was all set to bring another tainted leader (Avinash) into the party whose name has also figured in the Bhola drug case. Besides, some of his close associates have also been booked by the police in drug cases,” said a Congress Rajya Sabha member, requesting anonymity.
He said Captain was “forced” to stop Avinash’s induction as he also faced flak over his move to bring the former SAD leader in the meeting of party’s screening committee in Delhi.
Sources said senior leaders from Doaba on Friday registered a strong protest before the Captain, citing media reports in which Avinash was shown as a ticket-seeker from Adampur.
When contacted, Avinash admitted that he had met the PPCC chief a few days ago. “I don’t know what ‘Maharaja Saab’ has tweeted. I still believe in his earlier message in which I was asked to join the party on November 29,” he said.
“May be this tweet has come from a fake account. I am yet to get a call about any change of decision,” Avinash told HT.
Meanwhile, sources close to Amarinder disclosed that he got upset after Avinash went “on record” in the media to disclose his joining date.
They said the second reason behind blocking Avinash’s entry is his controversial past. He had been accused of using police for atrocities on Congress workers in Kartarpur and Phillaur constituencies, which he represented in the past two terms, respectively, they added.
“Phillaur was inducted into the party because he earned great sympathy among Dalits after he was removed from the state cabinet in 2014. However, there is no such Dalit support for Avinash,” they added.