Stalwarts abandoning Cong, more defections likely

Stalwarts abandoning Cong, more defections likely

Congress leader Sunder Sham Arora meets Home Minister Amit Shah as four former ministers and two former MLAs joined the BJP on Saturday. Balbir Singh Sidhu (left) and Raj Kumar Verka (second left) are also seen. Tribune Photo

Tribune News Service

Rajmeet Singh

Chandigarh, June 4

The exodus of four senior Congress leaders, days after former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar joined the BJP, doesn’t seem to stop here.

Policies, lack of reforms to blame

  • Policies, including ticket distribution, by high command are responsible for the crisis, says political analysts
  • The party has also failed to stem exodus of leaders despite promise of reforms, including structural changes
  • With the AAP in the saddle, many Congress leaders are sceptical about the future of the party over next five years

Took asylum fearing action

Those apprehending coercive action by central agencies or by the AAP government are seeking political asylum in the BJP. — Raja Warring, PCC Chief

In the coming days, party insiders apprehend more Punjab Congress leaders, including some MPs, may abandon the Congress. On Saturday, party leaders made frantic calls to other senior party leaders whose names (among the list of disgruntled leaders) were doing the rounds.

What is worrisome for the leadership is the fact that traditional Congress men in the state unit are abandoning the grand old party. The exodus started with Capt Amarinder Singh, who was removed as the Chief Minister by the leadership and replaced with Charanjit Singh Channi ahead of the 2022 Assembly election. Further, Navjot Singh Sidhu was replaced with Amrinder Raja Warring as the PCC Chief after party’s worst poll debacle.

“Be it Jakhar or the four former ministers — Dr Raj Kumar Verka, Gurpreet Singh Kangar, Balbir Singh Sidhu and Sunder Sham Arora — have been dyed-in-the-wool Congress men. From the time Channi took over as the CM and Harish Chaudhary took over Punjab affairs incharge, issues from distribution of ticket to expelling senior leaders such as Kewal Dhillon and Amrik Dhillon seem to have put the house out of order. In the new setup, some senior leaders have been feeling sidelined,” says a former PCC general secretary.

Senior leaders point out the state of affairs in the state unit is a reflection of the in-house problem in the party at the national level. Political analysts point out policies by the party high command are responsible for the crisis and party’s downfall.

The Congress has failed to stem the exodus of leaders despite the promise of reforms, including structural changes, it is being pointed out. With the AAP in the saddle with 92 MLAs in the state, many Congress leaders are sceptical about the future of the party over the next five years.

PCC chief Raja Warring termed the switchovers a “blessing in disguise”. He said the BJP had taken “trash” into its fold and would realise in the next elections what “tohfa” (gift) Shah was taking with him.

He said the Congress suffered a political debacle owing to such leaders. The party could win only 18 seats in the 117-member Assembly in the February Assembly elections.

About the four ministers leaving the party, Warring said those apprehending coercive action by central agencies or by the AAP government were seeking political asylum in the BJP.

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