Majha belt Congress leaders have written to party president Sonia Gandhi over union minister Sushilkumar Shinde "ignoring" them during his visit to the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Attari on Sunday.
These Congress leaders complained that while they did not get an invitation or were informed of Shinde's visit, several leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rubbed shoulders with him during his visit.
In the letter to Gandhi, the Congress leaders have demanded strong action against the minister. "Despite, All India Congress Committee's instructions to ministers to visit the district party offices, during their visit, Shinde neither did so nor did he invite any Congressman," the letter states.
A joint statement in this regard was issued by Gurdaspur District Congress Committee (DCC) chief Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, also an MLA, and his Amritsar (rural) and Tarn Taran counterparts Harpartap Singh Ajnala and Dharamvir Agnihotri respectively.
Others on the list were MLAs OP Soni, SS Sukh Sarkaria, Tripat Rajinder Bajwa, Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, Aruna Chaudhary and Ramanjit Singh Sikki, besides former MLAs Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Harminder Singh Gill, Tarsem Singh, Raman Behl and Balbir Fatehpur.
"Instead of talking tough against the SAD and BJP leaders for siphoning off Border Area Development Programme (BADP) grants, Shinde chose to visit the state in their company," the statement says. "He took along with him those SAD and BJP leaders, who accuse the Congress central leadership daily."
They sought to know why the union ministry or the Amritsar district administration did not invite Bajwa although the Khadoor Sahib SAD MP was.
A delegation led by Bajwa had recently met Shinde and demanded a CBI probe into the alleged embezzlement of BADP funds in the Attari assembly constituency. A case in this regard was registered by the state Vigilance Bureau, which is probing the misuse of development funds meant for Attari.
The statement also includes a demand by the Congress leaders for a CBI inquiry into the BADP scam and the arrest of former minister Gulzar Singh Ranike, the SAD MLA from Attari.
However, despite an invitation not being extended, a couple of Congress leaders from Amritsar city had a brief meeting with Shinde at the ICP. These included National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes vice-chairman and MLA Raj Kumar, Amritsar DCC (urban) president Jugal Kishore Sharma and former assembly deputy speaker Darbari Lal.
"We met Shinde and invited him to visit the holy city and meet Congress leaders and workers at the DCC (urban) headquarters," Sharma said. "I am not aware of the statement issued by some Congress leaders."
Shinde on his part clarified that he was here in his official capacity to visit the ICP and inspect the security arrangements.
"It was not a political function, so there is no need to feel ignored," he said when asked for his reaction on the statement issued by his party leaders against him.