Even as the Congress is yet to declare the chief ministerial candidate in Punjab, there’s an increasing clamour in the party for projecting a Hindu face for the deputy chief minister’s post.
Vice-president of Congress’ state unit and MLA Brahm Mohindra has urged the party high command to promise to voters that a Hindu leader will be made deputy chief minister if it forms a government in 2017, apart from allocating more tickets to Hindu faces.
That there is no love lost between Mohindra and Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh is no secret. Last year, Captain visited Mohindra’s house to break the ice. The two are now on talking terms but still have a difference of opinion, and many a time Mohindra has toed the party high command line.
The demand of Mohindra, a five-time MLA, comes close on the heels of Rajya Sabha MP Shamsher Singh Dullo’s assertion that projection of a Dalit face for CM or Dy CM’s post will do a lot of good to the party. “The need of the hour is to win the confidence of Hindu voters,” he had said.
This is a fact that there are not many credible Hindu leaders in the Congress, especially in Malwa region, who can strike the right notes with the community.
Malwa region has 53 constituencies spread over 12 districts. In the 2012 assembly elections, only six candidates from Malwa were Hindus — Brahm Mohindra, Patiala (rural); Arvind Khanna from Dhuri; Aman Arora from Sunam; Mangat Rai Bansal from Maur; Naresh Kataria from Zira and Joginder Pal Jain from Moga. Of these six, only Mohindra remains in the Congress.
Now, only Mohindra and Vijayinder Singla are active, while former finance minister Surinder Singla is dormant due to illness.
Mohindra said that in 2012, party failed to get the desired votes of Hindus as the Shiromani Akali Dal had allocated 12 seats to the community.
“I am raising a genuine issue. We must realise that Akali Dal is hijacking our vote bank. Hindu community has traditionally been Congress supporter, but due to some issues within the party and the better social-engineering of SAD, more votes in 2012 went to the Akali Dal. We must learn from mistakes and allot a major chunk of tickets to Hindus, apart from promising in manifesto that Dy CM will be a Hindu face,” Mohindra said.
He said Hindu voters were disillusioned with the Akalis and the BJP, and it was the right time to woo the community back.
Mohindra said he had apprised the party high command of the fact that there was a dearth of Hindu leaders in Punjab. “If we look at Malwa, I am the only Hindu MLA from this belt. Others who got the Congress ticket in 2012 either lost or joined the Akali Dal,” he said.
“The Congress must do social-engineering in Malwa belt as it is badly needed,” he said. When pointed out that the Congress was a secular party, Mohindra said that didn’t mean “we should not give proper representation to a community that gave a lot to the party”.
Cong leaders to meet Rahul Gandhi
Chandigarh: All senior leaders of the Congress party from Punjab have been asked to reach Delhi for a meeting with AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Sunday. Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh and senior leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal reached Delhi on Saturday. Party’s Punjab affairs in-charge Asha Kumari will also attend Sunday’s meet.