The manhandling of party MP Ravneet Singh Bittu who had gone to attend a Kisan Sansad near Delhi’s Singhu border on Sunday has put the Punjab Congress in a quandary with several leaders asking what if such attacks on become a norm. This even as the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) condemned the incident stating that such attacks are not part of their ideology.
Bittu, who had said that “goonda elements” had attacked him and that “it was a plot to murder him”, Tuesday blamed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for the incident and claimed that he saw “many persons holding yellow flags of Yogendra Yadav’s outfit Swaraj India”.
The Ludhiana MP was on Sunday allegedly assaulted, pushed around and his turban pulled off during the ‘Kisan Sansad’ programme. His vehicle was also damaged in the attack at the Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji Memorial where he had gone with Congress’ Amritsar MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla and party MLA Kulbir Singh Zira to attend the event.
For the ruling Congress in Punjab, the incident has come as a shock. The Congress has been supporting the farmers’ agitation and was least expecting that any party member would be facing such protests.
The common refrain in the party on Monday was that “Bittu should have avoided going to Kisan Sansad.”
“What would happen if this becomes a norm and we start facing protests in the state? One never knows people’s reactions. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had stayed away from farmers’ agitation all this while so Bittu shouldn’t have gone there,” a senior party leader told The Indian Express.
In the evening, the party leaders, including the CM accused the AAP of having worked at the behest of BJP for attack on Bittu. PPCC president Sunil Jakhar too blamed BJP and “its agent AAP” for the attack.
Privately, a number of leaders felt that the attack had put the Congress on “backfoot.” Some went to the extent of even disassociating themselves from the episode. “The attack was because Bittu has been saying that Khalistanis were also a part of the protest. This is not a protest against Congress,” a leader said.
Almost all Bittu’s party colleagues said that they have been supplying essentials for the agitators. “Many of us went with stuff like water bottles, blankets but we did not go for the stage. This was acceptable.”
“I am told that Kulbir Zira and Aujla were told by the agitators to escape as they had nothing to do with them and that they wanted to protest against Bittu, who was raising the Khalistan issue,” said a party leader on anonymity.
Meanwhile, Bittu, in a Facebook live session, asked in what capacity had Yogendra Yadav gone to attend the Kisan Sansad especially after he had raised objection to visit of BKU leader Gurnam Singh Chaduni in one of the preliminary meetings of the Sansad.
“The SKM leaders must answer in what capacity did Yadav attend the Sansad while Chaduni was told that he can be suspended from the Morcha as he had reportedly held a meeting with politicians in connection with the Kisan Sansad,” Bittu said.
He alleged that “flags of Swaraj India were in the hands of people who attacked me…one of them, seen in the video, is an AAP worker from Punjab’s Patti area”.
The Kisan Sansad had been organised by senior Advocate Prashant Bhushan alongwith activists such as Medha Patkar.
BKU (Dakaunda) president Buta Singh Burjgill, meanwhile, said that SKM has condemned the attack. “We don’t allow politicians on our stage. On Sunday, Bittu and other Congress leaders had gone at some other location, which is little away from Singhu. Attack on any leader is not part of the ideology of farmer unions”.
At Singhu, a farmer leader addressing the gathering, was hear saying farmers should not protest “if someone has come and sat amongst you”.
“We have no objection to people sitting in the pandal without any party flag or badge. But we have a policy not to share the stage with any politician,” he said.
Asked about Bittu’s allegations, Burjgill said as of now Kisan Aandolan was their top priority.
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