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‘Need to show there is no jungle raj’: Sunil Jakhar echoes Congress disquiet in Punjab

Despite the chief minister having countered the charges, state Congress chief and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar on Friday struck a dissenting note, though he chose to blame the civil and police administration and not the CM.

punjab Updated: Nov 04, 2017 10:48 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Sukhdeep Kaur
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sunil Jakhar,Punjab Congress,Capt Amarinder
Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar.(HT Photo)

At a time when opposition Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP combine are terming the rule of Captain Amarinder Singh as “jungle raj” after recent killings of right-wing leaders, there is growing disquiet within the ruling Congress too.

Despite the chief minister having countered the charges, state Congress chief and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar on Friday struck a dissenting note, though he chose to blame the civil and police administration and not the CM.

“The CM took a long meeting soon after his return from Mumbai on Thursday with top officials on recent killings. He expects results. The government has to deliver and show that unlike jungle raj during the time of Akalis, there is rule of law now,” Jakhar told HT.

No clue why Bajwa is unhappy, says Captain Amarinder

Jakhar had earlier, too, articulated views of some party MLAs on “the executive ignoring political representatives” and cautioned officers to “shed the Akali thinking” and become “public-friendly”.

But Amarinder has claimed that he would not politicise the civil or police administration as the Akalis had allegedly done in their 10-year rule.

Saying that neither police nor the civil administration can claim any political interference now, Jakhar opined that people should also “feel and see the difference” between the regimes.

“The free hand to administration should result in good governance. The difference should show,” he added.

Govt-party disconnect

Jakhar is the second senior leader after Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa to express displeasure over functioning of the government.

The timing of Bajwa’s grouse was tactical. It came to show solidarity with a section of MLAs and minister Navjot Singh Sidhu who are alleging involvement of former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia in the case of illicit drugs even as the CM toes the ‘no evidence’ line. However, it is also ironical that Bajwa is unhappy as the party gave the Lok Sabha bypoll ticket on his home turf recently to Jakhar, who belongs to faraway Abohar. At that time, Amarinder had played a key role in the ticket to Jakhar instead of the Bajwa family.

But Jakhar’s concerns are now significant also as the face of the party in Punjab.

The disconnect between the party and government has been growing, and some MLAs believe the government has “no grip” over the administration. “Everyone is running their own show, including ministers, cops and bureaucrats. The CM has plum departments under him and the cabinet expansion is deferred every time. The maxim of ‘minimum government’ should result in maximum governance. But that’s just not the case in Punjab,” a Congress MLA said, requesting anonymity.

Hindu vote drift

Earlier this year, the Congress was able to return to power after 10-year exile only after wooing back its traditional vote bank of Hindus, say observers. The community grew wary of the AAP’s alleged hobnobbing with Sikh radicals and rallied behind the Congress. The party is concerned that the targeted killings of religious leaders — mainly from Hindu outfits affiliated to BJP’s ideological parent RSS — may also result in the community vote drifting away as the opposition fans fears of return to days of instability.

Though such killings started during the previous government, of which the BJP was a part, the Congress had romped home on the promise of ensuring safety and stability to all communities.

First Published: Nov 04, 2017 10:08 IST