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Chandigarh: Congress infighting comes into the open as Babla, Chawla engage in heated exchange

The incident happened moments after the completion of oath-taking ceremony of the elected councillors. Devinder Singh Babla and Subhash Chawla were in the visitors' gallery to witness the ceremony.

Written by Saurabh Parashar | Chandigarh |
Updated: January 2, 2022 10:45:39 am
Chandigarh Congress president Subhash Chawla after heated arguments with former Congress councillor Devinder Singh Babla on Saturday. (Express Photo: Kamleshwar Singh)

Infighting within the local unit of Congress came into the open when two senior leaders — former councillor Devinder Singh Babla and city Congress unit president Subhash Chawla — engaged in heated arguments publicly and almost came to blows in full public view at Municipal Corporation Building, Sector 17, Saturday.

The incident happened moments after the completion of oath-taking ceremony of the elected councillors. Babla and Chawla were in the visitors’ gallery to witness the ceremony. Babla was accompanied by his son while Chawla was with some party workers.

Later, senior Congress leader and former MP Pawan Kumar Bansal, who was in Delhi, rushed to Chandigarh after getting information about the incident. Sources said Bansal talked to both the leaders over the phone. A decision on the incident can be taken anytime, sources said. Eyewitnesses said that Chawla was less aggressive than Babla. Chawla refused to make any comment immediately after the incident.

During the arguments, Babla said, “Main pakka Congressi haan (I am a committed Congress worker).”

Babla blamed Chawla for the Congress defeat in the MC elections. “I along with my son was sitting in the visitors’ gallery to see the oath-taking ceremony, in which my wife, who won from ward number 10, was present. Chawla all of a sudden started staring at me in a strange manner. When I objected, he replied rudely. This man has ruined the Congress. Indeed, many leaders, including me, had differences with Chawla over ticket distribution in MC election. I talked to Pawan Bansal after the incident.”

Asked about the possibility of his joining the BJP, Babla said, “I have no intention to join any party but anything is possible in politics. Indeed, I am in talks with other parties for the post of mayor (referring to his wife). I offered them that we can work on a strategy of two-year term of mayor and later can change the mayor.”

Babla’s wife Harpreet Kaur Babla won the election from ward number 10, which was reserved for a woman candidate this time. Earlier, this ward was represented by Babla. Chawla had fielded his son Sumit Chawla from ward number 14 but he lost.

Later, Chawla said, “I was going from the visitors’ gallery when he (Devinder Sing Babla) all of a sudden charged at me. He tried to assault me. I will not like to make more comments. Party will definitely take a call on this incident.” Babla was taken out from the premises by BJP leader Anil Dubey, whose wife is also among the elected councillors. The Aam Adami Party (AAP) has won 14 seats, BJP 12 seats, Congress eight and SAD one.

When contacted, Bansal said, “I believe leaders should restrain themselves from becoming aggressive. Every issue can be resolved with discussion. I came to know about the incident. I will look into it. I have no idea whether any leader is leaving the party.”

DC administers oath to councillors

Deputy Commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh administered the oath of office to all the 35 elected councillors in the Municipal Corporation on Saturday.

He reminded two councillors — Kuldeep Kumar of ward number 26 and Manaur Khan of ward number 29 — to pronounce the oath correctly.

The councillors took the oath in Hindi, Punjabi and English. As the DC urged the councillors not to lower their facemasks, all of them were quick to cover their faces with the masks. MC Commissioner Anindita Mitra and others were present during the ceremony. The entry to the building of Municipal Corporation, Sector 17, was prohibited for those not fully vaccinated. The councillors and their supporters were only allowed to enter after showing the vaccination certificates, text messages and other proofs.

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