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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

‘I was sidelined’: Chandigarh senior Congress leader Pardeep Chhabra quits party

Blames former party MP Pawan Bansal; speculation rife that he may join BJP

Written by Hina Rohtaki | Chandigarh |
Updated: August 7, 2021 8:39:30 am
After days of infighting, Congress leader and former Chandigarh Mayor, Pardeep Chhabra, on Friday resigned from the party. (File photo)

After days of infighting, Congress leader and former Chandigarh Mayor, Pardeep Chhabra, on Friday resigned from the party.

Chhabra was upset ever since he was removed as Chandigarh Congress president and the post handed over to Subhash Chawla. Considered a loyalist of Congress leader and former MP, Pawan Kumar Bansal, Chhabra in his resignation letter, blamed Bansal for his resignation, while also stating that since the change in leadership in Chandigarh Congress, he had been “sidelined”.

Contacted about the allegations, Bansal told The Indian Express, “His utterances do not merit a response from me.”
Chhabra’s resignation from the Congress just a few months before the Municipal Corporation elections has given rise to speculations within the party that he may be joining the BJP.

Chhabra in his resignation letter said that he joined the Indian National Congress (INC) as a member of NSUI in Chandigarh around 35 years ago. “I had joined INC as a member of NSUI in Chandigarh 35 years back as I believed in the ideology of the party and the vision of inclusive, liberal, and progressive politics. I had served the people of Chandigarh as a councillor, as a senior deputy Mayor of Chandigarh and Mayor,” he stated in the resignation letter.

Chhabra went on to specify that in these last 35 years, the party had given him various platforms to learn and grow in political/public space at the same time. “I tried to fulfill all the responsibilities assigned to me with more than 100% dedication…I have also represented the party at various forums when it was at its lowest.”

He added that his services were not being valued anymore.

“In the last few years, certain things have convinced me that neither my services were being valued nor was I getting the respect that every individual deserves. I was being treated as a puppet controlled by Pawan Kumar Bansal. I had no other option but to take this step, because of the dictator-like attitude of Pawan Kumar Bansal,” he said.

He stated that when in 2015 he was appointed as the President of Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee, he had to face many challenges.

The 2016 Municipal Corporation elections had come as a major embarrassment to Chhabra, as the party suffered a humiliating loss, prompting him to submit his resignation then. But it wasn’t accepted. Many Congress workers had blamed Chhabra for the loss stating that he wasn’t taking the senior Congress leaders into confidence while working.

“Every worker of Chandigarh Congress has lost enthusiasm. I had a huge responsibility to rebuild the party in Chandigarh. I am dissatisfied and disappointed with the way that I have been treated by Pawan Bansal for the past so many years. I also took the 2016 Municipal Corporation loss on myself and had resigned. But the same was not accepted. In 2020, I started the slogan ‘Congress ki rasoi, bhukha soye na koi’, for helping people who were suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent nationwide lockdown. Instead of being happy that I was helping the needy people of Chandigarh by providing them food, Pawan Bansal was angry with me. Later due to this, I was removed from the post of Congress’ Chandigarh president without any intimation. I was happy with change in leadership but I wasn’t happy with the way it happened,” he stated.

Chhabra said that ever since the change in the leadership, current Chandigarh Congress President, Subhash Chawla, had sidelined him from all the meetings of the party.

“When I asked Subhash Chawla why I wasn’t being called for meetings, he replied that first I had to apologise to Pawan Bansal for my behavior and if he gives his consent only then would I be called for meetings,” he stated.
Chhabra bluntly concludes, “If Pawan Bansal continues to run the party like his private limited company and treats everyone like puppets, Congress will collapse in Chandigarh like a pack of cards.”

The final push for Chhabra came after he was not included in any of the committees constituted in Chandigarh Congress a few days back. Chhabra had then openly come out against the Chandigarh Congress President, Subhash Chawla.

Chhabra then had gone on to state that the committees that were constituted were an indication of moving towards a “Congress mukt Chandigarh” and that from now on “he will come out with new revelations daily”.

In a letter he wrote, “Dear Congressmen who were made office bearers in the committee constituted by Congress today. Many congratulations to them for getting the new responsibility. Chandigarh Congress leadership today started a new inning in “Congress mukt Chandigarh”.

To this, Congress chief, Subhash Chawla, had said that Chhabra seemed to have become mentally unfit as he was indulging in cheap publicity without raising his grievance at the right forum.

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