Known masters of political rhetoric, Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and the party's legislative party leader Sunil Jakhar have now taken up the challenge of making the party's case in an actual court.
They will try and convince the Punjab and Haryana high court to order fresh delimitation of wards for the panchayat elections likely next month, arguing that the exercise had earlier been carried out in an arbitrary manner, Bajwa announced on Sunday. Also to guard against biased rejection of party nominees' candidature, the duo plan to turn lawyers on Wednesday and seek directions for mandatory electronic (computer-driven) submission of nomination papers - the term being employed is e-filing. The leaders will also demand one consolidated counting centre for each district.
The eight Congress MPs from Punjab, over 40 party MLAs and also some unsuccessful candidates from last year's assembly elections would accompany Bjawa, who is a Lok Sabha member from Gurdaspur, and Jakhar, the three-time legislator from Abohar.
"Jakhar and I will personally lodge and argue the case before the court on Wednesday," Bajwa declared at a rally here. "We want e-filing of nomination papers to be compulsory because, in the last polls, duty officials arbitrarily rejected papers of hundreds of our candidates by deliberately removing certain documents from their files just to appease their Akali bosses," he alleged, "And review petitions filed against the rejection have not been decided for years."
Bajwa's announcement seems part of a fresh strategy to unite the state Congress leadership, besides being a symbolic act of leading from the front. "We have convened an emergency meeting of the party office-bearers at Chandigarh tomorrow (Monday) to discuss the legal recourse. We want fresh delimitation since officials did not make the maps of the area available to general public so as to avoid objections. We will also demand collection of all ballots of a district at one location for counting under a senior Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officer. There were instances in the past that counting was fudged with the brutal use of force."
As the rally coincided with the birth anniversary of BR Abdedkar, the chief architect of India's constitution and a Dalit icon, Bajwa also sought to please the Dalits by admitting the party's mistake of ignoring the community in the past. "We will give due respect to the Dalits and will take up their issues effectively at every forum," he announced.
Others who addressed the rally included general secretary Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa, MPs Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Santosh Chaudhary, former ministers Avtar Henry, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Chaudhary Santokh Singh and AS Samra, Punjab Youth Congress chief Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary and former MLA Jagbir Singh Brar.