Congress legislators of poll-bound Punjab will need to take a loyalty pledge for the 2017 assembly elections but the party’s state affairs in-charge, Asha Kumari, says it is an old practice in the party.
“This system of seeking a written undertaking from those hoping for the party ticket is nothing new. We had followed this format in the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections in December 2012,” Asha Kumari, who is the Dalhousie MLA, said in Shimla on Tuesday.
She was in town to attend the Himachal Pradesh assembly’s rural planning committee meeting.
The Congress had made its legislators sign the loyalty affidavit in the West Bengal elections in May to ensure that they don’t rebel if denied the chance to contest. In the March 2012 elections in Punjab , Congress hopefuls had contested against official candidates on being denied the party ticket.
The loyalty affidavit is part of the application format devised with the help of the party’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor.
“When applying for the ticket, the aspirant has to declare in writing that he/she will work for the party irrespective of being given the chance to contest. The new thing is that the ticket aspirants will need to mention the names of two voters from every booth in the constituency they want to contest from. There is nothing wrong in that,” she said.
‘AAP doesn’t understand Punjab’
Asha Kumari, who succeeded Congress leader Kamal Nath as Punjab affairs in-charge in June after he quit following an opposition uproar over his role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, said the party was geared up for the election.
Senior leaders would be touring the state for 45 days, she said, adding Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh’s Coffee with Captain and Halke Vich Captain were such connect programmes.
“But the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is an outsider. It does not understand Punjab and its culture. Those who don’t understand the state are trying to create a wave in AAP’s favour. Their Mehrauli (Delhi) MLA, Naresh Yadav, is being questioned for his role in a Quran sacrilege case in Malerkotla. This shows they are desperate to grab power but lack local support,” she said.
She denied infighting in the Punjab Congress. “Difference of opinion should not be dubbed as groupism. The state Congress is united and focused on the election,” she said.
“Prashant Kishor is only a poll strategist. He will not design the entire campaign,” she said on his role in the elections.
‘Virbhadra being harassed’
Asha Kumari, who is convicted in a land grab case and on bail after a Chamba court sentenced her to one-year jail in February, said the arrest of Himachal Pradesh chief minister Virbhadra Singh’s insurance agent Anand Chauhan last week in a disproportionate assets case is the result of “personal vendetta by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley”.
“This case is an attempt to harass a popular chief minister,” she said.
“Not only the Himachal cabinet but the entire Congress is also with Virbhadra Singh,” she said, referring to the emergency meeting of the cabinet to express solidarity with the chief minister.
“The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is an outsider in Punjab. It does not understand the state’s culture”,” Asha Kumari said.