The infighting between groups of former minister Amarjit Singh Samra and former MLA Gurwinder Atwal in Nakodar assembly seats reached its peak on Monday when the ‘Punjab Congress Express’ bus yatra had to be cancelled in Nakodar due to both the groups opposing each other’s presence.
Everything was going well at village Uggi till the bus yatra led by Congress MP from Jalandhar Santokh Chaudhary reached the venue.
Chaudhary was accompanied by both Samra and Atwal in the bus. However, as soon as the leaders settled on the stage, supporters of Samra took the mike from the stage secretary and started raising slogans against Atwal.
Calling Atwal a ‘traitor’ of the Congress, Samra’s supporters led by state truck union president Happy Sandhu, also showed black flags to Atwal and asserted that they won’t allow the function to begin until Atwal was ousted from the programme.
“Atwal has openly worked against Samra during the 2012 assembly elections and has openly taken money from different parties to defeat Samra. How can such a traitor be allowed to sit on the Congress stage?” questioned Sandhu to the leadership present on stage.
Samra’s supporters also raised slogans such as ‘Gurwinder Atwal-Murdaabaad’ and ‘Gurwinder Atwal-Go Back’.
Though majority of the workers present were seen supporting the slogans, chaos prevailed at the venue when supporters of Atwal also started raising slogans against the Samra group.
The senior leadership including Jalandhar MP, party observer for this yatra Tej Parkash Singh and yatra co-ordinator for the segment Tejinder Bittu tried to calm down the agitating workers, but they did not relent. Eventually, the senior leadership decided to suspend the yatra in the segment.
The senior leadership has blamed Samra group for creating embarrassing position for the party as on Saturday only, the senior leadership of the Congress asked both groups to ensure smooth run of the Yatra.
“Both Atwal and Samra were sitting in the bus with the senior leaders. I don’t know what propelled Samra supporters to create such an ugly situation for the party when everything is going perfectly well in the state,” said a senior leader present on the stage.
The Indian- Political Affairs Committee (I-PAC) team present in the programme has also sent its independent report to the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Captain Amarinder Singh.
Notably, the deep enmity between Samra-Atwal had started when Samra was preferred for ticket from Nakodar by the Congress high command in 2012 rejecting the equally strong claims of Atwal. On several occasions, Samra had blamed Atwal of taking `2 crore from Sukhbir Badal for ensuring his defeat.
Atwal, when contacted, blamed Samra group for creating the scene. “It was a pre-planned act of the Samra group and he has hired few professional goons to keep me out of the function. Few people are thinking that the Congress is their personal property,” he said.
Samra, on the other hand said, ““I think the workers got agitated after seeing Atwal on stage as they think that he was the only reason behind Congress’ defeat.” he said.