So near, yet so far. That’s how the tryst of former Faridkot MP and Congress Working Committee member Jagmeet Brar has been with getting the top job in Punjab Congress. Suspended from the party in 2014 for saying that party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi should connect to grassroots after the party’s worst show in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, he has now targeted his party and state chief Capt Amarinder Singh after the Maghi mela. In an interview to Sukhdeep Kaur, Brar says he has spoken in the best interest of the party.
Q: Your tweet on the AAP rally during the Maghi mela has been retweeted by Arvind Kejriwal and other AAP leaders. Many Punjab Congress leaders are accusing you of embarrassing your party and Amarinder.
Brar: Who am I to criticise Amarinder? Never before in the history of the Maghi mela has Muktsar seen such a huge gathering for any Punjab or national leader. I had sent my security guard to get medicines from near the AAP rally venue at 3.30 pm, and he returned at 8 pm. People were not just inside the pandal but on roads, top of buses and houses. I tweeted what I saw, what Muktsar saw. It was a record-breaking turnout. It was a wake-up call for the Congress.
You also questioned Akali leaders and Amarinder for targeting Kejriwal.
Kejriwal came to Punjab and met families of the Pathankot martyrs. He had earlier met families of victims of police firing during sacrilege incidents. We should be sensitive enough to welcome him. Even Amarinder condemned the ink attack on him. When Punjab is facing such grave issues, it’s sad that all our leaders could talk about was Kejriwal. The election has to be fought on issues, not mudslinging.
You seem to be particularly piqued after the Congress rally at the Maghi mela. Though unlike at the Bathinda rally, you were invited to speak.
I was not perturbed at not being invited to speak at the Bathinda rally but by the body language of some people there. It was not like a party rally as just a few people ran the show. The Maghi rally was like a tamasha. Even MLAs did not get the space to sit. Some MLAs have met Amarinder to express their anger. People who have come from the Akali Dal got space but not Congressmen. We need workers, not leaders, to win polls.
You have also questioned Amarinder’s coterie.
Amarinder is undoubtedly the tallest leader in Punjab Congress and I respect him. He is lively and can breathe life into the Congress, but it cannot be done with bedhangi chaal. He has to have a bigger heart. Earlier, nobody could meet him without the consent of Jeet Mohinder Sidhu and Arvind Khanna. Both ditched the party. Though he goes everywhere and meets people with warmth, who he meets and through whom is still controlled by a few. Congress workers had this feeling even during the 2012 polls. The coterie gives him wrong advice. The same people who surrounded him in 2002 surround him now, but I will take no names.
Your detractors claim that you are eyeing the AAP as you have been left out in the cold in the Congress.
I have been one of the Congress stalwarts in the state, though as luck would have it, I could not become the state Congress president or chief minister. Neither any AAP leader has approached me, nor did I approach any AAP leader. I am not into small business like this. Whatever I have said is in the best interest of the party. Other parties have formed booth-level committees. We are not prepared for the polls like them. But I will not say any further. Even noted poet Surjit Pattar said, ‘Aena wi sach na bol ki kalla reh javen, do char bande chhad de moda dain layi (Don’t speak so much truth that you are left alone with no one to carry you to the grave).