THE CONGRESS Monday defended the appointment of AICC secretary and Himachal Pradesh MLA Asha Kumari as the party’s in-charge of Punjab, saying she was not facing any case of murder or corruption, unlike some BJP leaders. Sources in the party indicated that she would not be replaced, arguing that Kamal Nath’s case was different.
Meanwhile, Kumari met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and said she had her “full mandate”. “I have been given full mandate by the Congress president and vice-president to work for the party in Punjab,” she said, adding that the controversy would not affect the party’s prospects in the Punjab assembly elections next year.
The party also came out with “brief facts” on her case, saying that the case dates back to her marriage into the royal family of Chamba and calling her a “victim of political vendetta”.
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Kumari, who was convicted in a land grab case in February this year, said the BJP, AAP and Akali Dal were raising a non-issue. “I am sorry, I cannot oblige them,” she said. “It is for parties to decide who is going to lead the party,” she said. “We are very much geared up to form the government in Punjab and BJP, and others are scared,” she said.
On the charges against her, she said: “It has become fashionable to use the word ‘land grabbing’. How can I grab the land which belongs to my father-in-law.” Kumari said the case was related to a property owned by her father-in-law. She said the tenants had forged some papers to claim ownership, which was challenged in court.
At the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Kapil Sibal argued that many BJP leaders were facing more serious charges. Sibal claimed BJP president Amit Shah was charged with murder, while its Karnataka unit president B S Yeddyurappa was charged with corruption. He claimed that BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya has 10 cases pending against him.
“These are issues which will be resolved, courts will resolve them. There are ministers who are functioning in Gujarat today, even after they have been convicted… So let’s not talk of perception,” he said. Asked whether the Congress was following the BJP’s example, he said: “We are not following any example.”