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HindustanTimes Wed,30 Jul 2014

Cong chakka jam protest damp squib in Patiala

Navrajdeep Singh , Hindustan Times   Patiala, January 16, 2014
First Published: 22:23 IST(16/1/2014) | Last Updated: 23:08 IST(16/1/2014)

Punjab Pradesh congress committee's chakka jam  turned out to be a lackluster show in Patiala as former chief minister and local MLA Capt Amarinder Singh and union minister of state for external affairs Preneet Kaur (MP) skipped the protest on Thursday.

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With senior leaders remaining absent, their supporters too kept away from the protest held at the fountain chowk in the city, once a stronghold of the Congeress party.

The dense fog on Thursday morning also affected the Congress protest as supporters failed to turn up in big numbers in almost all the eight assembly constituencies in the  district. Heavy fog could be witnessed during protest hours.

Patiala District congress committee president Prem Kishan Puri led protest in Patiala city.

Demanding a CBI probe into the alleged involvement of Revenue  minister Bikram Singh Majithia in the multi-crore drug racket unearthed after the arrest of former Punjab police officer Jagdish Singh Bhola, PPCC president Pratap Singh Bajwa had given the call for 'chakka jam'  in the state.
 
Raninder Singh 'Tikku', son of Capt Amarinder Singh, also failed to turn up at the protest venue in Samana constituency from where he contested unsuccessfully in the 2011 assembly elections against Shiromani Akali Dal's Surjit Singh Rakhra, now the rural development and Panchayats minister.

 Though the absence of Capt Amarinder was quite expected in the wake of his blatant opposition to Bajwa's demand of CBI probe in the drug case, the low turnout in his constituency would surely raise questions about the support base of the party in the area.
 
Interestingly, Kabir Dass, former senior deputy mayor, instead of joining the protest organized by the city Congressmen, joined the agitation organised by senior party leader Lal Singh, who is MLA from Sanaur constituency in the district.

Lal, who was accompanied with around 350 supporters, blocked traffic on Patiala-Rajpura road near Bahadurgarh.

The protest led by former MLA from Ghanaur Madan Lal Jalalpur also witnessed lukewarm response as his supporters failed to turn up in a large number to block Delhi-Jalandhar national highway. Jalalpur, who belongs to the Amarinder camp in the Congress, recently revolted against Bajwa and resigned from the party's new executive committee in the state.

The same scene could be witnessed in Nabha constituency where around 100 Congress supporters, led by Nabha MLA Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, staged protest on Nabha-Patiala road and blocked.
 
The protest in Rajpura constituency was organized by local MLA Hardyal Kamboj but it too witnessed a tepid response.
 
Meanwhile, senior leaders including Lal Singh, refused to comment over the absence of the "royal family" during the statewide protest the call for which was given by PPCC.
 
"The state government always blames the Centre for  smuggling of drugs from neighbouring countries but it is shameful that drugs were actually smuggled in huge quantity from Punjab to different countries and states within India under the nose of state ministers and authorities", said Lal Singh.
 
Though the chakka jam could not evoke much response in Patiala, the people had to go through a lot of inconvenience wherever the roads were blocked in the district.

No major traffic jam was witnessed but commuters had to travel several extra kilometres to reach their destinations.

"What political leaders are trying to prove? They are setting an example before the people that anybody can go and block roads and traffic for their demands", said Herdev Singh, a local resident.

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