A call given by Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar to the residents of the state to raise slogans of ‘bole so nihal’ and ‘har har Mahadev’ at 6pm Monday to express gratitude towards the frontline workers in the battle against COVID-19 failed to elicit the desired response from his party’s government.
Jakhar, who had also said that Congress’s state unit will observe “Jaikara-Jai Ghosh Diwas” on April 20 to “express solidarity with the state government’s fight” against novel coronavirus, was left high and dry with several party bigwigs, including Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and most of the Cabinet ministers, giving the campaign a miss. Even former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was earlier seen to be close to Jakhar, did not support his call.
Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, and Forest Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot had extended supported to party chief’s call. However, only a few party MPs and MLAs posted pictures and videos while raising these slogans. These included CM’s wife and Patiala MP Preneet Kaur.
Jakhar too posted his photo and a video raising the slogans. He also posted a letter written to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking financial help for Punjab.
Citing reasons behind the lukewarm, a minister told The Indian Express on anonymity that Jakhar had taken the decision for a call, which appeared more like a “carbon copy” of similar calls given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the recent past, on his own.
“The PPCC chief did not discuss it with anyone. He gave the call single-handedly. It was neither endorsed by the Congress high command nor by the Chief Minister. We had mocked Modi for such theatrics. Hence, we were shocked when our president himself gave this call. The lukewarm response to the call was expected only as the entire Congress party did not seem to be on board with this,” the minister said.
While party bigwigs mostly remained aloof, Congress sarpanches of a number of villages posted pictures and videos raising the slogans. “Jakhar’s call did not get a mass response. Only Congress workers responded. We were expecting it generate a Modi-like response but that did not happen,” said a party functionary.
Jakhar had given the call on Saturday. He had stated that Punjab was putting up a strong fight under the leadership of Amarinder Singh. Jakhar said CM had been urging PM Modi to help states in this critical phase to bail them out from unprecedented economic problems.
He had appealed to the people to express their solidarity with the the CM’s demand to “convey the voice of Punjab” to the Union government. “Let’s express our solidarity with the Punjab government and reach out to the Central Government to get the financial package sanctioned,” he had said.