Rift within the local Congress came to the fore one again as two factions came to blows on Friday night over a party poster ahead of a Mahila Congress conference scheduled here on Saturday. A criminal case has been registered against Kapurthala district Congress chief Joginder Singh Mann’s son Harnoor Singh and his aides for allegedly attacking the other group with sharp-edged weapons and rods.
Punjab Mahila Congress vice-president Balbir Rani Sodhi, who is seeking the party ticket from Phagwara, was organising the Saturday conference, in which Mahila Congress national president Shobha Ojha and former Punjab chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal were to participate.
When supporters of Joginder Singh Mann, also a contender for the party ticket from here, went to the venue on Satnampura road around 10.30pm to fix a banner carrying his pictures, Sodhi’s supporters opposed it. This led to the clash. Youth Congress block president and Sodhi’s close aide Saurav Khular sustained minor head injuries and was admitted to the civil hospital. Mann’s nephew Sunny Mann was also hospitalised.
On basis of Khular’s statement, Mann’s son Harnoor Singh, nephew Sunny, their aide Gopi Bedi and others have been booked under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint), 506 ( criminal intimidation) and 148 and 149 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Manpreet Singh Dhillon said: “We are investigating the case and have procured closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage from nearby places. No arrest has been made so far.” He said a daily diary report (DDR) has also been filed on basis of Sunny’s statement and a case would be registered after verification.
Joginder Singh Mann meanwhile refuted the allegation and said his son Harnoor was at a gym when the incident took place. He also accused Sodhi of trying to sideline other Congress leaders. The two factions have long-standing hostility and have openly criticised each other in the past as well. Mann had represented Phagwara (reserved) assembly constituency thrice and remained a cabinet minister. Balbir Rani Sodhi’s husband and PPCC general secretary Balbir Raja Sodhi was given the ticket in 2012, but he lost to the BJP. Sodhi had blamed the Mann group for his defeat.
Cong will release manifesto on Oct 2 or Nov 14: Bhattal
PHAGWARA: Former Punjab chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who is state Congress manifesto committee chairperson, said the party will be releasing its manifesto for the assembly polls on either October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary, or November 14, birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru.
Bhattal along with Mahila Congress national president Shobha Ojha was addressing ‘Mahila Morcha’ organised by Punjab unit vice-president Balbir Rani Sodhi here on Saturday.
Bhattal said the Congress will give preference to the youth and women while allotting party tickets, while also taking into account the winning capability of the candidate. She also attacked the ruling government for sidelining women in politics and spoiling the youth of the state. “If Badals are well-wishers of Punjab, the state needs no enemy,” she said. HTC