Rajasthan crisis still looming, the Congress on Friday witnessed a fresh front opening in Punjab with the party's warring factions in the state seeking each other's removal.
Close on the heels of Rajya Sabha MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo openly attacking Chief Minister Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government, the state Congress unit on Friday wrote to the central high command recommending the duo's expulsion for anti-party activities.
Bajwa on the other hand demanded immediate removal of CM Amarinder Singh and Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar “in the interest of the party” and said, “if the CM and state chief are not removed, the party will be obliterated in Punjab.”
Bajwa and Dullo have been attacking the Congress government in Punjab over the recent hooch tragedy which has killed over 100 people in the state and have demanded an ED and CBI probe into liquor mafia's nexus.
A day after the Punjab cabinet recommended the expulsion of the two Congress MPs, state unit president Sunil Jakhar wrote to party chief Sonia Gandhi, demanding that Bajwa and Dullo be removed from the party for “not just breach of discipline” but also “betrayal of the Congress.”
Accusing Bajwa of hobnobbing with the BJP, Jakhar said, “Partap Singh Bajwa is the only leader in the opposition under the current ruling BJP regime whose security has been enhanced while that of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former PM Manmohan Singh and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has been withdrawn. Both the MPs by attacking their own party's government have betrayed the Congress.”
Bajwa hit back, accusing CM Amarinder Singh of “dancing to the tunes of his masters in the BJP”.
“We have only asked for an investigation against the liquor mafia. We have not demanded investigation against the CM. There have been losses of Rs 2,700 crore in the excise revenue collection due to flourishing of illegal distilleries. If they have done no wrong, why should they hesitate in ordering a thorough probe. The CM should instead welcome a CBI probe and should say the state would provide all assistance to it,” Bajwa told PTI.
“We demand that both Amarinder Singh and Sunil Jakhar be immediately removed from their posts in the interest of the party. Otherwise, the party will face consequences in Punjab and will be obliterated as has happened in some other states,” he said.
Bajwa, a former Punjab PCC chief, alleged that “CM Singh is playing in the hands of the BJP and is dancing to the tunes of his masters in the saffron party”.
The two Rajya Sabha MPs--Bajwa and Dullo--have been openly attacking the Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government over the recent Hooch tragedy.
They have accused the state government of “mal-administration”.
When asked, Congress in-charge of party affairs in Punjab Asha Kumari urged all leaders to refrain from making comments in public against each other and instead raise their issues at party platforms.
She said the party high command is apprised of the matter and will take action accordingly. She said the PCC cannot take action against the two MPs of their own and can only recommend action to the Congress president, who can send the matter to the central disciplinary committee headed by senior leader AK Antony.
“The central disciplinary committee headed by AK Antony is the competent authority to decide on the matter. The report sent by the PCC will be taken up by it. We will follow whatever directions are given by the high command,” she told PTI.
Asha Kumar said, “I urge all party leaders to refrain from making public comments and raise these issues internally at party platforms”.
Punjab cabinet ministers on Thursday demanded immediate expulsion of Rajya Sabha MPs Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo from the Congress for their criticism of the state government over the recent hooch tragedy.
The ministers described the MPs' acts as “gross indiscipline” and said they have rendered themselves “useless” and of “no value” to the party.
However, the two MPs remained defiant and issued a joint statement in response, saying not criticising the government even if it is working “against” the interest of the public is ”against the principles of democracy”.