By : K S Chawla
If you continue to fight and lose the next Punjab Vidhan Sabha election for the third time, you will lose forever. This warning was sounded by Rahul Gandhi, Vice President, All India Congress Committee during his last visit to Punjab where the addressed the Congressmen of Punjab.
But the Punjab Congress leaders do not seem to have learnt any lesson from their Vice President and are continuing their fight unabated. The infighting among the Congressmen in Punjab has become rather intense after the visit of Rahul Gandhi.
This is evident from the fact that Partap Singh Bajwa in his capacity as President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee replaced Pawan Dewan as president of the District Congress Committee (Urban) Ludhiana and appointed Gurpartap Gogi as the new President. The removal of Pawan Dewan has caused storm in Ludhiana Congress and supporters of Dewan have raised a banner of revolt against Bajwa. Partap Singh Bajwa who visited Ludhiana for three days had to cut short his four day visit because of the intensive protests against him by the supporters of Pawan Dewan.
Pawan Dewan who is a protégé of Manish Tiwari a former Ludhiana MP and a former Minister in the UPA Government was made president of the DCC (Urban) Ludhiana with the blessings of Manish Tiwari. As soon as Dewan became president, he forgot that he has to take the workers of all groups along to run the affairs of the party. The power went to his head and he started taking DCC (Urban) presidentship as his personal fiefdom. He created division among the Congressmen instead of bringing unity and ran the affairs according to his own whims. This resulted in the massive division in the Ludhiana Congress so much that Manish Tiwari had to run from fighting election from Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat. Despite assurances from the party High Command that he would get full support of all groups, Tiwari did not have the guts to contest the election and took refuge under the pretext of sickness.
Ravneet Singh Bittu, a grandson of late Chief Minister Beant Singh who had contested from Anandpur Sahib in 2009, was shifted to Ludhiana Lok Sabha seat and he won with the support of all factions of the Congress party. Bittu faced opposition from the AAP party and the SAD candidate was placed third in the final count.
Pawan Dewan has not reconciled to the changed situation and is continuing his opposition to Bittu and Gogi and Bharat Bhushan Ashu MLA. Pawan Dewan will have to come to terms with the situation if he wants to survive in the party.
At the state level, Amarinder Singh continues to oppose Partap Singh Bajwa and wants his ouster. But so far he has not succeeded. Amarinder may succeed in his efforts to dislodge Bajwa and become the president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee later before the next Vidhan Sabha elections in Punjab. Amarinder has been advised by his friends and supporters to stop opposing Bajwa as this is resulting in strengthening Bajwa. He promised with his friends that he would not oppose and condemn Bajwa but he is helpless and is continuing to oppose him. So far Bajwa has been getting the support of the party high command and Rahul Gandhi during his Punjab visit patted him. After receiving a pat from Rahul Gandhi, Bajwa left for Dubai for junket.
Bajwa also needs to learn some lesson and he must learn to take all partymen with him. As a matter of fact, Bajwa has also created division by appointing Non- Congressmen as party office bearers in an attempt to create his own group in the Punjab Congress. But he is definitely on the wrong path. He needs to strengthen the party and not his own position. As he tries to strengthen his own position, he loses friends and supporters. He should try to be a statesman.
Rajinder Kaur Bhattal another senior Congress leader of the Punjab has joined hands with Amarinder Singh against Bajwa. Rajinder Kaur Bhattal is keen that her son should get ticket from Lehragaga Vidhan Sabha seat in the next Vidhan Sabha elections 2017. Lehragaga has been pocket borough of Bhattal and she does not want to lose her hold over that seat.
She also wants a seat for her son-in-law who contested from Sahnewal in Ludhiana district and lost to Sharanjit Singh Dhillon.KS-Chawla
Punjab Pradesh Congress is at cross roads at present and is not in a position to win the Vidhan Sabha elections. The Party High Command needs to be serious and take remedial measures to stem the rot in the Punjab Congress. But the high command itself is in disarray what can one expect from it in the near future.
Punjab Congress needs a non-controversial leader who could cash on the growing unpopularity of the SAD-BJP Government in Punjab. Shiromini Akali Dal leadership in Punjab is fast losing its grip on the Punjab situation and even its alliance partner BJP is showing big eyes to its senior partner.
BJP is also trying to expand its base in Punjab and may contest next Vidhan Sabha elections independently. BJP is trying to win over urban and dalit votes with the help of RSS. The Congress leadership should also find some godfather like of the RSS to grab power. If the congressmen fail to unite, they will not win the elections and lose the opportunity of grabbing power from SAD-BJP. They should read the writing on the wall. Stop fighting and learn to sit together. This is the last advice to the Punjab Congressmen – otherwise be ready for the doom.
KS Chawla is a veteran journalist.
He can be reached at 9988644244