In what could be a hint of return of factionalism in Punjab Congress less than a year ahead of Assembly elections, senior party leader Jagmeet Singh Brar Sunday hit out at state Congress president Amarinder Singh, alleging that he was surrounded by a “dirty caucus” which is working to loot Punjab and mint money.
Brar, a former member of the Congress Working Committee, told The Indian Express that the party is at the “third position” today, even behind the Aam Aadmi Party, which he said was carrying out a proper house-to-house campaign that Punjab has never seen before.
Brar said even the ruling Akali Dal has managed to unite its flock by raising the emotive issue of Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, although it was Parkash Singh Badal, who, as the then chief minister, had received the first cheque from his then Haryana counterpart Devi Lal four decades ago. By doing so, Brar point out, badal had virtually given the go-ahead for the canal’s construction.
“Organisationally, the Congress stands at a very low position. We have miserably failed to take our people along, and give them a proper, positive dream for a change,” Brar said.
“The AAP has been working very hard in Punjab for the past six months and for the first time Punjab is witnessing proper house-to-house campaign for such a long period. I don’t know what people say in Delhi and what they feel, but here people are of the firm opinion that AAP will be better than the Congress and the Akalis in the coming days,” he said.
Brar said AAP may be able to gain ground because a handful of political families have been running the show in the state. He said there are five leading families who are in different parties but are related to each other. “This clique has always been there…They have a coordination among themselves for their families’ benefits,” he alleged. “For instance, Amarinder and the Majithias are very closely related… They play their games together.”
The former MP said he was defeated twice in Lok Sabha elections by a margin of around 10,000 votes because of the “game played together by Amarinder and Sukhbir Badal” against him. “I have evidence… their people were working against me,” Brar alleged.
Asked about Amarinder’s leadership, he said, “There is a dirty caucus which is working to loot punjab and to earn money around Amarinder Singh. He (Amarinder) has been told (that) by the high command, not by me, at least a dozen times.”
Asked to elaborate, Brar said, “I have information that in the latest meeting at 15, Gurdwara Rakabganj Road (known as the Congress war room in Delhi) where Prashant Kishor was present… he (Amarinder) was told in front of five people that he has to do two things. One, there is an impression that you (Amarinder) are surrounded by very corrupt and businessmen-like people who are there only for political business and to earn money.”
“He (Amarinder) should get rid of his dirty coterie and caucus and then he should work. Then only we can fight for number two position.”
A year before the polls, Brar said AAP has the people’s imagination today. “At number two is Akali Dal. My assessment is that we are number three. I am not levelling any allegation. In a democratic country everyone is free to make their assessment. I am only sounding the warning bell before the fire breaks out,” he said.
Although he did not attack the high command, Brar appeared unhappy over the decision to allow Amarinder to boycott the Khadur Sahib byelection.
Brar was suspended from the party in 2014 after he hit out at Sonia and Rahul Gandhi in the wake of the Lok Sabha defeat. The suspension was revoked last year.