The Congress ended its three-day siege to chief minister Parkash Singh Badal’s official residence in Chandigarh on Saturday evening after one of party’s demands — transfer of Ludhiana additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP4) Jaswinder Singh over “bias” against its leaders and workers in the “chitta” Ravan clash — was met.
Punjab director general of police Suresh Arora, who is heading the probe ordered by the CM after the party started the sit-in on Thursday afternoon, met the protesting Congress legislators and leaders and assured them of a fair inquiry into the clash between Youth Akali Dal and Congress activists in Ludhiana on Dussehra eve.
In a statement, a Punjab government spokesperson said the Ludhiana ADCP had been transferred with immediate effect and had been asked to report at police headquarters in Chandigarh till further orders. The Congress is also demanding shifting of Ludhiana police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh.
By pushing the Badal government on back foot through publicity coups by holding a two-night sit-in at the Vidhan Sabha during the autumn session in September and now a three-day protest outside the CM’s residence, the Congress has got a much-needed booster dose to project itself as the main opposition party, the position which was literally usurped by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in terms of public perception.
Like the assembly siege, the sitin outside the CM’s house was led by the party’s young brigade — Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu and congress legislature party leader Charanjit Singh Channi — while Congress seniors, led by state party chief Captain Amarinder Singh, lent the protesters the fire power by a symbolic guest appearance.
After Amarinder, Congress general secretary in-charge of Punjab affairs Asha Kumari and senior MLAs Sunil Jakhar and Lal Singh, campaign committee chairperson Ambika Soni and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal also participated in the dharna outside the CM residence on Saturday.
The poll-weary party, whose cadre was demoralised by two successive poll drubbings in 2007 and 2012 state elections, has been able to charge them up by its new-found aggression and closing ranks during recent protests.
The party strategy behind a shriller anti-Badal stand fits into its campaign on three counts: It would help it wrest the opposition space from the AAP, keep the ruling alliance on the back foot and boost workers’ morale.
Amarinder, who stormed a police station in a Gurdaspur village this week to warn cops against “intimidating” Congress workers, is back to his “khunda” brand of politics — warning political opponents with the stick. The AAP had made a killing out of Amarinder’s stand against the Central Bureau of Investigation probe into drug trade as “tacit understanding” with the Badals and even those within Congress were feeling restive against lack of aggression in Amarinder saying his anti-Badal credentials had been dented.
Captain has announced to intensify the agitation by burning the effigies of “chitta” Ravana across all 117 assembly seats.
NO CHANGE IN PLAN TO BURN ‘CHITTA’ RAVAN
The Congress said there was no change in Amarinder’s plan to burn “chitta” Ravan in Ludhiana during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit on October 18. Party workers in all 117 assembly segments will burn similar effigies on Monday, Congress national secretary Harish Choudhary said before calling off the dharna.
A delegation of party MLAs — Sukhjinder Randhawa, Tript Rajinder Bajwa and Surinder Dawar — met the DGP, who assured them that he will visit Ludhiana to re-investigate the attempt to murder case lodged against Congress leaders during the Dussehra-eve clash.