Punjab ministers seek expulsion of Bajwa, Dullo from Cong; duo hit back

If govt ‘working against public interest’ cannot be criticised, this is against principles of democracy, say MPs

Punjab ministers seek expulsion of Bajwa, Dullo from Cong; duo hit back

Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa.

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6

Two days after Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar sought strict action against party MPs Pratap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo, the entire Punjab cabinet on Thursday also pitched for the duo’s immediate expulsion for “anti-party and anti-government” activities, which they termed as gross indiscipline.

The actions of the two Rajya Sabha MPs call for immediate and strict action against them by the party high command, said the Cabinet ministers, seeking the dismissal of Bajwa and Dullo for attacking their own Congress government in the state over the hooch tragedy.

Hitting back at the Cabinet ministers, Bajwa and Dullo said, “If the performance of the party cannot be criticised even if the government is working against the interest of the public which has reposed faith in the party and elected them to power, then this is against the principles of democracy.”

In a press release, the duo sought to remind Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar that it was “he who had also been criticising Capt Amarinder Singh's working as Chief Minister during this tenure and now he is acting as if Amarinder Singh as CM has never failed in performing his duties”.

“As regards the sacrilege case, it needs to be specifically pointed out that till date Punjab Police does not have the original case file with them which is still lying with the CBI. The State did not even file a contempt petition for getting back this case file and are misleading the public by stating that they are investigating the case. We are disheartened by the lack of effective action by the State Administration in ensuring that the families who have lost loved ones due to the liquor mafia are delivered justice,” Bajwa and Dullo said.

The ministers, in a joint statement, called for the whip to be immediately cracked on the two MPs, without any laxity or delay.

Indiscipline could not be tolerated at any time, least of all when Assembly elections in the state are less than two years away, they said, pointing to the MPs’ repeated attacks on the state government, including Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Questioning their decision to raise concerns on the hooch tragedy, the ministers said the two MPs had never, in their Rajya Sabha term, bothered to raise any issue of the interest of the state they represent. “Why did they not press for the completion of the ED probe into the drugs issue during the Akali regime? Why did they not protest in the House against the anti-farm Ordinances of the Union Government? Why did they never speak about the CBI’s failure to probe the sacrilege cases,” the ministers asked.

The ministers said by bypassing all party and government forums to protest against the government handling of the hooch tragedy and to approach the Governor for CBI and ED inquiries into the case, the two MPs had not only attacked the very basis of democratic governance but had sought to undermine the Punjab Police force, which was effectively cracking down on the liquor mafia despite the Covid pandemic pressures it was currently handling.

This is not the way democratic systems and institutions are meant to function, said the ministers, pointing out that a CBI probe was needed only if the police failed to deliver, which was definitely not the case at present. In any case, they pointed out that the whole of Punjab had been witness to CBI’s total lack of efficiency in investigating the sacrilege cases. Even the targeted killings were solved not by CBI but by the state police, the ministers said, expressing full faith and confidence in the Punjab Police ability to bring every guilty individual to book even in the spurious liquor case.

Moreover, the decision on recommending or not recommending a CBI probe rests with the state government, and not with two MPs, who are unable to even represent the interests of Punjab properly in Parliament, the ministers said.

What was even more unacceptable was the fact that instead of feeling even remotely apologetic, these MPs continue to be on the offensive, going so far as to launch a personal attack on PPCC president Sunil Jakhar. How can party MPs from a state go around openly criticising the chief of their own state unit, they asked, adding that the Congress had a strong leadership in Punjab and did not need two undisciplined members denting the image.

Response by Bajwa, Dullo:

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