‘Secular’ Congress releases religion, caste-based list of media panellists in Punjab, beats hasty retreat
Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said the first list was released inadvertently. “All the candidates have been chosen on basis of their ability,” he said.punjab Updated: Sep 09, 2017 23:15 IST
How good are secular credentials of the Congress? Its list of 24 media panellists for Punjab released on Saturday gave the media a sneak peek. It rated each panellist as a Hindu, Jat Sikh, urban Sikh or Scheduled Caste (SC). It gave no bonus marks for being articulate, media-savvy or ability to give “sound” bites.
Left blushing, the party had to soon beat a hasty retreat and release a new list with just the names and mobile numbers, sans the caste and religion qualifications of the chosen 24. Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said the first list was released inadvertently. “All the candidates have been chosen on basis of their ability,” he said. The caste and religion matrix, party sources said, was for the party record as there is an unwritten rule to give all communities their due.
But what was meant for the party’s consumption soon became a fodder for the media to chew upon. On top of the list is MLA Raj Kumar Verka, who is vice-chairman of the National SC Commission and a vocal voice for atrocities against the Dalits. No wonder his qualification to make it to the coveted list is that he is a “SC”. Nimisha Mehta, the only woman on the list, finds herself there for being a Hindu.
Sukhjinder Raj Singh ‘Lalli’ Majithia, a firebrand former MLA, who makes news for taking on his poll rival — former Akali minister Bikram Singh Majithia — has been chosen under the category “Jat Sikh”. Former MLA Inderjit Singh Zira may be a crusader for every cause of farmers qualified as a “Jat Sikh”. Two MLAs, Sukhwinder Singh Danny and Gurpreet Singh GP, have made it to the list as SCs.
But it’s not enough to be a loyalist of one of the ministers or influential MLAs too. MLA Amar Singh, who is a confidant of local bodies minister Navjot Sidhu, has been bracketed as a “SC”, Gurpartap Mann, close to MLA Sukhjinder Randhawa, has made it to the list as a “Jat Sikh” and Raman Balasubramaniam, close to MLA Bharat Bhushan Ashu and MP Ravneet Bittu, as a “Hindu”. Rajpal Singh, close to Ambika Soni, figured on the first list as an “OBC” and Kamaljit Singh Brar, Manpreet Singh “Bunny” Sandhu and Surjit Singh Swaich as Jat Sikhs.