Busts of slain leaders at Chandigarh Cong office creates controversy

  • Sukhdeep Kaur, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 19, 2015 21:10 IST
Busts of senior Congress leaders at the Punjab Congress Committee office in Chandigarh on Friday. All three were assassinated by terrorist. (Gurpreet Singh/HT Photo)

When new Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Captain Amarinder Singh declared at his press conference on Thursday that he would take no chances in his last hurrah, he had more than just poll allies and sops on his mind. The Congress office in Chandigarh, which wore a deserted look till his coronation rally in Bathinda on December 15, came back to life only after an ‘auspicious’ start.

Curiously enough, the busts of former prime ministers, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, and former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh — all three leaders assassinated by terrorists — which were at the entry gate of the party office had been relocated to the ‘sprawling lawns’ inside.

Former Punjab Congress chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, who had installed the busts of the three leaders, has questioned the move, dubbing it as an insult to leaders who had sacrificed their lives for the country.

An over-cautious Amarinder’s office was quick to issue a statement on Friday saying it was done following ‘consistent demand and suggestions by a number of party leaders and workers in interest of better maintenance’, creating a controversy where there was none.

While Amarinder himself does not believe in Pandits and Tantriks, many of his confidants do.

One such well-wisher seems to have found a curious link between the installation of the busts and party’s poll fortunes — the Congress has faced two back-to-back defeats since the busts were installed in 2007. He, however, does not seem to have bestowed any ‘astrological’ significance to the fact that the party lost the 2007 polls in February, while Dullo installed the busts in April!

Even Amarinder’s predecessor, Partap Singh Bajwa, according to an office attendant, was advised by his astrologer to relocate the busts, but the latter went only to the extent of taking over his office on an auspicious date before his formal coronation ceremony.

A furious Dullo, however, claims that Amarinder does not even believe in basic courtesies.

“He did not bother to invite me personally for the Bathinda rally, whereas I went to his residence to invite him when I became the party chief. Party workers had donated `5-6 lakh for installing the busts and the workers and marble came from Rajasthan. Now, some plants have been kept at the space vacated by the busts,” he says.

He also questions if the stairs near the Youth Congress office were the most ‘respectable place’ for the busts, as claimed by Captain’s office. “Why did Amarinder not think about their maintenance when he was state chief earlier? Who is he trying to please by the move,” Dullo said.

Feigning ignorance about any Vaastu tips or astrological advice, MLA Sunil Jakhar, a Captain loyalist, said it was more befitting that the busts of the leaders are in the lawns and not at the parking area near the gate.

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