All India Congress Committee (AICC) secretary and Batala MLA Ashwani Sekhri has raised the banner of revolt against Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa, and that too on the latter’s home turf, Gurdaspur.
Sekhri has accused Bajwa of denying him a free hand in the selection of party candidates for the upcoming Batala civic polls.
He alleged that the former Gurdaspur MP was interfering in party affairs in his assembly constituency (Batala), even though the PPCC president had given the freedom to pick party candidates to MLAs such as Charanjit Kaur Bajwa from Qadian, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa (Dera Baba Nanak), Aruna Chaudhary (Dinanagar) and Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa (Fatehgarh Churian).
Tripat Bajwa, Randhawa and Chaudhary are staunch loyalists of Bajwa’s bete noire, former CM and deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, Capt Amarinder Singh. The fifth party MLA from the district is Bajwa’s wife Charanjit Kaur.
Sekhri further said: “The last date (February 13) for filing nominations is barely a day away. Bajwa’s interference is affecting the Congress’ prospects in the civic polls. If Bajwa does not recognise me as a party MLA, then I also refuse to acknowledge him as the PPCC president.”
“I am senior to Bajwa in electoral politics as he became a MLA after me. I am also an AICC secretary. There are five Congress MLAs in Gurdaspur. Bajwa has sent candidates’ lists to all, except me. He is only capable of village-level politics. He wants a MLA to have no say even in MC polls in their constituency,” Sekhri said.
He added that he had apprised Punjab party affairs incharge Harish Chaudhary of the state of affairs. Chaudhary deputed party leader Jasbir Singh Dimpa to visit Batala and decide on the probable candidates, but even after two meetings, nothing has been done, Sekhri claimed.
“On Thursday morning, Dimpa visited my house and told me to induct some supporters of the PPCC president in the list prepared by us on Wednesday night. I accepted that demand, but my 35 candidates are still awaiting tickets,” he said.
“I have also intimated AICC president Sonia Gandhi. Me and my supporters are going to release the list of 35 nominees who are going to contest these elections on the party symbol,” Sekhri added.
Partap Singh Bajwa was not available for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him.