RIDDLED with factionalism, Punjab Congress is almost as a matter of routine making a public spectacle of its differences. A protest on Thursday against the Centre over rising inflation and price rise by its Punjab unit became quite a public spectacle at Sector 15, Chandigarh.
Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu while addressing over 1,000 party workers began his speech by saying, “There are many corrupt people in the party but I don’t want to name them…” Sidhu had barely completed his sentence when Punjab Youth Congress leader Barinder Dhillon got up and challenged Sidhu amidst uproar by the party workers.
Dhillon asked, “If you know the corrupt leaders in the party, name them.”
Sidhu insisted, “I will not name them.”
On hearing this Dhillon said, “You are indulging in a drama and please be quiet.”
After this Sidhu made a vanishing act and Dhillon was immediately surrounded by the media.
When the media covering the protest surrounded Dhillon, anticipating that he may say something controversial, Gidderbaha MLA Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, held his hand and hurriedly took him away.
Later, Warring said, “These are internal matters of the party and it happens in every party.”
The Sidhu-Dhillon spar took place barely 24 hours after another similar incident in which senior leaders Congress Sunil Jakhar and Raj Kumar Verka had a showdown over the alleged so-called anti-Dalit remarks of Jakhar.
Verka Versus Jakhar
Verka took on Jakhar on Wednesday after a video clip of the latter went viral where he had used the expression ‘paer di jutti sar te rakhna (put the shoes on one’s head).” Jakhar had allegedly said that the Congress high command should not give a seat of power to those who did not deserve it.
The Congress high command had made Charanjit Singh Channi, a Dalit, as the CM a few months before , and Jakhar’s remarks were probably misinterpreted keeping that in mind. He later clarified that he meant that people who did not deserve should not be given important positions and added the expression had nothing to do with any particular caste.
Randhawa Versus Channi & Jakhar
Even before this, after the poll results in Punjab, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa took on Sidhu saying that he was the one responsible for the debacle in the Punjab polls. Randhawa also questioned former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Sunil Jakhar. He said that a “man who couldn’t stop his own brother (Manohar Singh) from fighting as an independent against the Congress candidate, what is the locus standi of such a person”. The target was Channi.
Randhawa said Jakhar, the campaign committee in charge, too was responsible for not being able to control the faction-riddled Congress. Jakhar on his part said that he wasn’t such a big leader so as to be single handedly held responsible for the poll debacle by Randhawa and even if he was so, in the interest of the party, he was ready to make any sacrifice the party wants.
Ambika Soni vs Jakhar
On March 15, senior Congress leader Ambika Soni while analysing the reasons for the defeat of the Congress in Punjab, said that the state leadership did not support former CM Charanjit Singh Channi. She said that the high command had created an asset in Channi by not only making him the CM but announcing him as the chief ministerial candidate. To this Jakhar responded, “Are you joking?”. Jakhar added that Channi was not only a “liability” but even greedy.