Chandigarh, March 15
Several Congress candidates on Tuesday blamed indiscipline in the party and its senior leaders, including Charanjit Singh Channi, for the crushing defeat in the Punjab Assembly polls.
The Congress leaders said this interacting with the media as AICC in-charge for Punjab affairs Harish Chaudhary called a meeting to introspect on the party’s defeat.
Chaudhary met party candidates and said the meeting was called to find the reasons behind the party’s defeat.
Outgoing Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and party’s state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu were also present at the Punjab Congress office. However, both refused to talk to the media.
Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, who won from Gidderbaha seat, blamed indiscipline for the party’s rout in the elections.
“There was indiscipline in the party. People of Punjab felt that we are somewhere non-serious. There were several reasons but it was one of them,” said Warring.
Replying to a question, Warring said anybody who created indiscipline should be “thrown out of the party”.
Darshan Brar, who lost from Baghapurana, blamed statements of Charanjit Singh Channi and Sunil Jakhar for hurting prospects of the Congress.
He expressed his displeasure over Jakhar’s last month’s statement, in which he had claimed that 42 MLAs wanted him to be the CM.
Brar said Channi’s “UP de Bhaiye” remark went against the party in the elections.
Gurpreet Singh, who lost from the Bassi Pathana assembly seat, squarely blamed Channi for the party’s crushing defeat in the polls.
He said the Congress announced Sidhu as the party’s chief ministerial face, it would have won at least 50 seats.
“CM Channi is the only reason for the party’s defeat. People did not like Channi as the CM face at all. Had (Navjot) Sidhu been announced as the CM, we would have won at least 50 seats,” said Gurpreet Singh.
When pointed out that Sidhu himself lost from his Amritsar East seat, Gurpreet Singh blamed Channi again.
“If Charanjit Channi was the CM face then what could Sidhu do,” he said.
The Punjab leader said how could people of Punjab listen to Channi when his brother does not.
Channi’s brother Manohar Singh contested as an Independent from Bassi Pathana against Gurpreet Singh.
“Is it the job of the CM to dance or milk a goat,” he said, taking a dig at Channi.
Instead, Channi should have focused on improving health and education sectors and job creation, said Gurpreet Singh.
Replying to a question, he said as a huge sum of money was seized from Channi’s nephew following the Enforcement Directorate raid, he should not have been declared as the chief ministerial face by the party high command.
The former Congress MLA also alleged that Channi was richer than former chief minister Amarinder Singh.
Congress candidate and outgoing minister Bharat Bhushan Ashu, who lost from Ludhiana West, said, “The reasons because of which we lost the elections will be out in the open soon. I do not think that the party was weak or we lost because of the leadership.”
A blame game has commenced within the Punjab Congress over the drubbing in the polls.
AAP romped home by winning 92 seats in the 117-member Punjab Assembly. The Congress was routed in the elections and could win only 18 seats.
On Monday, former state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar had hit out at Channi and called him a liability whose “greed pulled the party down”.
Without taking her name, Jakhar had also targeted senior party leader Ambika Soni for trying to project Channi as an asset.
On Sunday, former Punjab minister and senior Congress leader Balbir Singh Sidhu, who lost from Mohali, had said that the Congress leadership scripted its own defeat by giving power to turncoats and opportunists who were alien to the Congress, its history and its culture. PTI
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