Monday, January 3, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Birdevinder threatens to quit
Tribune News Service

PATIALA, Jan 2 — Precipitating dissidence in the pradesh Congress, its General Secretary Birdevinder Singh today said he would resign from his post if the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, submitted a memorandum demanding the imposition of financial emergency in Punjab to the President again.

Criticising the PPCC chief at a press conference here, Mr Birdevinder Singh said he had never been a party to any delegation submitting a memorandum to the President regarding imposition of financial emergency last year as claimed by the PPCC chief. “I neither accompanied any delegation or lent my signatures to any such memorandum”, he said.

Mr Birdevinder Singh said party workers were feeling directionless under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh and that he along with others would convey the feelings of the party workers to Congress General Secretary Moti Lal Vora on his visit to Punjab on January 5.

He said he would request party President Sonia Gandhi to intervene in the matter as well as get a activity analysis of the PPCC under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh. He said party workers were complaining to him that the PPCC President was inaccessible. He said he had also been repeatedly humiliated by the party President who had refused to take any call from for 19 days during the period the Congress was to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa. He said he had ultimately stopped trying to contact the PPCC President as it was “a very difficult and expensive venture”.

Mr Birdevinder Singh also launched a attack on the PPCC President alleging he had made his New Moti Bagh Palace residence a hideout of militants during the turbulent days. He said a person who had a secret undertaking with terrorists was teaching him and others in the state about discipline. He said Capt Amarinder Singh wanted people like him to leave the Congress but was encouraging Akalis and militant sympathisers to join it.

The dissident leader said he was not scared of suspension or expulsion from the Congress as he has struggled for 35 years for the party, “he can throw me out of the Congress but he cannot take the Congress out of my blood ”, he added. He also demanded that Capt Amarinder Singh should list a single contribution done for the Congress. He also alleged that the PPCC was not holding any function to commemorate the memory of Indira Gandhi or other leaders.

Mr Birdevinder said he was feeling suffocated in the party as no democratic action was being taken in the state to take on the Akali BJP government. He said the victory of the Congress in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections was a circumstantial one. “If tomorrow there is a patch up we are going to have a difficult time to achieve the same results”, he added.

Speaking on the issue of financial emergency, Mr Birdevinder Singh said the PPCC chief should not have felt offended about discussion on the matter. He said he had not committed any indiscipline as there was not fiat from the party not to talk on the issue. He moreover said those criticising him on the score should read the 18th chapter of the Constitution regarding emergency provisions. He reiterated that salaries would be cut during any financial emergency and that Fundamental Rights would be taken away. He said the issue should be brought to the notice of Congress constitutional experts who could give their view on it.

Speaking on the issue of Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s visit to Punjab recently. He said the PPCC President did not call any meeting of party office-bearers to discuss her programme, he said senior leaders, including former PPCC presidents, were not invited. He said the visit itself had been a fiasco because the Congress had itself admitted that there was no programme to take Mrs Gandhi to Akal Takht. “Why was this not done when the demolition of Akal Takht is still a sore point in the psyche of Sikhs?” he said.

Mr Birdevinder Singh also demanded direct action forum the PPCC. He said to Congress in the state should be given some programme which had not been done for the past one year. He was accompanied by former Minister Prem Gupta at the press conference.


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