Shahkot bypoll: Congmen raise voice against Ladi, Jakhar tries to control damage
A day after the Congress faced embarrassment over registration of a case of illegal sand mining against its candidate for Shahkot bypoll Hardev Singh Ladi, party’s desperate attempt to control the damage by holding a meeting with other ticket aspirants turned out to be a stormy affair.
In the meeting called by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Sunil Jakhar, the dissenting leaders questioned the party’s decision to give ticket to a “tainted” person, against whom a “sting operation” had also appeared last week in which he was seen settling a dispute of sand mining and “seeking one truck of sand daily”.
Party sources said the other ticket aspirants even questioned the state government’s sincerity to fight the business of illegal sand mining.
“On one hand, we are telling the people that we are going harsh on illegal sand mining, while on the other the party has given ticket to a man, who is facing serious allegations of illegal mining and is now facing an FIR as well. Lok Sabha polls are due next year and people of the state would seek answers on these double standards from us,” a leader said in the meeting.
The ticket aspirants, who attended the meeting, include Jalandhar District Congress Committee (DCC) working president Captain Harminder Singh, PPCC spokesperson Dr Navjot Dahiya, PPCC general secretary Rajanbir Singh and Jalandhar DCC chief Jagbir Brar.
The sources said Rajanbir even went on to say that by giving ticket to Ladi, a right hand man of former minister Rana Gurjit Singh, the party has “showed its helplessness before people like Rana”.
“Ladi is involved in illegal sand mining in Sutlej (Shahkot is situated along the bank of this river), another MLA of Tarn Taran district, who is also Rana’s close associate, has spread his business of sand mining in Beas river. What the party is trying to signal by giving preference to Rana’s men,” he reportedly questioned.
Rajanbir, who is son of former finance minister late Balwant Singh, confirmed that he has conveyed to the party high command that Ladi was a wrong choice, but denied that he had made remarks against the said MLA.
Dahiya, when contacted, said, “All aspirants before allotment of ticket had together appealed to the party high command not to pick a controversial face like Ladi. We will now take any further decision unanimously.”
A leader, seeking anonymity, said Jakhar categorically stated that the party high command has weighed all options after registration of the FIR against Ladi. “But the PPCC chief said the high command is of the view that changing ticket as this stage won’t be a politically wise move.”