Congress’s Partap Singh Bajwa raises banner of revolt in Punjab

Former State unit chief wants Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to step down.

In less than two weeks since the Congress managed to contain the rebellion in Rajasthan, former Punjab Congress chief and Rajya Sabha MP Partap Singh Bajwa has raised the banner of revolt against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh by asking Mr. Singh to step down.

In an interview to The Hindu on Friday, Mr. Bajwa said he had been “forced to ask for a leadership change in Punjab for the sake of the Congress party”.

The Rajya Sabha MP denied that his rebellion was timed with a section of Congress veterans mounting pressure on the party’s top leadership that is being seen as “weak and vulnerable”.

“I am very clear that I don’t want to indulge in the kind of factionalism witnessed in other States or [raise the issue of] whether the central leadership is weak or not. I am bothered about my State,” he said.

“We have stepped up this campaign [against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh] because we feel that there is very little time and only 15 months are left for the elections in Punjab….and people have realised that this man has cheated the mandate of the people,” argued Mr. Bajwa.

The factional war in Punjab intensified after Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Sunil Jakhar recently asked the party’s disciplinary committee headed by A.K. Antony to take action against Mr. Bajwa and his Rajya Sabha colleague Shamsher Singh Dullo.

Following the recent hooch tragedy in the State, rebel Congress MPs had met the Governor to ask for an inquiry into illegal liquor distilleries by the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Enforcement Directorate.

The Congress party has already accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of using these Central agencies against Opposition parties and the States ruled by them.

“We have been raising the issue of revenue loss in the State that’s now almost ₹2,700 crore because of illegal liquor smugglers. Then, 120 people got killed in the hooch tragedy. And since both the Excise and Police departments are headed by the Chief Minister, we thought only a Central agency can do justice. Do you think the DC (Divisional Commissioner) of Jalandhar can submit a report against his own boss?” he asked.

When pointed out that supporters of Captain Amarinder Singh claimed that the rebel duo don’t have the MLAs with them, Mr. Bajwa said, “I have told the party High Command that you call these MLAs one by one to Delhi, make them sit at Ms. Gandhi’s house, let there be no third person other than Ms. Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, and take their opinion.”

“Let the High Command ask if Captain [Amarinder] can steer the ship in 2022. If the majority of them say we have complete faith in Captain and he can win you the elections, then please keep him,” he added.

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