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Friday, May 27, 2022

‘Good luck & goodbye Congress’: Sunil Jakhar as he quits the party

Veteran Congress leader Sunil Jakhar had earlier been “stripped of all party posts” for “not toeing the party line”.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 15, 2022 8:02:17 am
Former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar (File)

Casting serious aspersions on the way Congress president Sonia Gandhi was handling party affairs, former chief of Punjab Congress Committee Sunil Jakhar on Saturday quit Congress in a Facebook live video.

He wrapped up his address by wishing Congress good luck and goodbye. “This is my parting gift, my last words spoken to the Congress men. I have highlighted things which need a chinta not chintan shivir. Good luck and goodbye Congress,” said Jakhar, whose decision to quit party came on second day of Congress’ Chintan Shivir being held in Udaipur in Rajasthan.

Jakhar’s announcement to quit party triggered reactions from a number of Congress leaders in Punjab. Former PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu in a tweet wrote, “The congress should not loose #suniljakhar …. Is an asset worth his weight in gold …. Any difference can be resolved on the table”. Dalit leader of Congress and former legislator Raj Kumar Verka called it a “sad day” and said, “As true soldier of Congress party and of Rahul Gandhi, I will say only one thing that one side Chintan Shivir is underway in Udaipur, all senior leaders of the Congress need to do “chinta” whether all assets of Congress are not getting finished.”

Verka while addressing Rahul added, “Despite all efforts, the boat of Congress was sinking and instead of Chintan Shivir, a chinta shivir should be held.”

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In his over 30-minutes address which he termed as his “dil ki baat”, Jakhar who was served notice by Congress disciplinary committee last month for “not toeing the party line – Jakhar did not respond to the notice –while addressing Sonia said Congress “did not sever relations with me, but had broken my heart”.

“Dil bhi tora to saleeke se na tora tumne, bewafayeee ke bhi adab hua karte hain (Even if you break heart, there should be some grace),” Jakhar quoted another verse from Urdu poetry.

Jakhar said he had severed tied with the Congress, the day notice was served to him, but his 50-year-long association with the party had been holding him back. He said he was hurt that instead of talking to him, party served him a notice, which he equated as “missile fired” at him.

While Jakhar questioned Sonia’s style of functioning, he called Rahul Gandhi a “very nice person”. However, he added that Congress should know who was the friend or foe or at least who was asset and liability. Talking about Rahul, Jakhar said, “If you are to run the party, you will have to take command in your hands.”

Referring to Sonia’s “very emotional” address during the Chintan Shivir where she said extraordinary situations demand extraordinary solutions”, Jakhar took a jibe and said, “Today, at a time when there is need to save the party and when it is facing existential crisis, we are behaving as if nation’s responsibility lies on us.”

Pointing towards party’s debacle in back to back polls and dubbing Chintan Shivir as “nothing more than a formality”, Jakhar said Congress needed to do Chinta Shivir.

“Ghar ko sajaane ka tassavur to bahut baad ka hai, pehle ye to taiy ho ki is ghar ko bachayen kaise (The idea of decorating can wait, first decide how to safeguard the house),” said Jakhar, invoking the famous lines of Urdu poet Wasim Barelvi as he took a dig at announcements of Congress committees on foreign affairs, economics and agriculture, but not forming any committee to fix accountability and look into the poll rout of the party in recently held State elections.

A good part of Jakhar’s address was aimed at veteran Congress leader Ambika Soni, who he said, was salahkara (advisor) of Sonia, and put a “blot on Punjab, Sikhs and Sikhi” and “defamed and insulted Hindu community” by creating a narrative that “Punjab will be on fire, if a Hindu becomes the Chief Minister”.

He also cautioned Sonia, making “a request with folded hands “not to go by her advisor” and “not do politics in Punjab with a prism of caste lines” He said Punjab, which had been through dark days of terrorism, was the most secular State of the country. Jakhar said “what AK 47 bullets could not do, the statements of some petty leaders holding big posts tried to do”. But, he added, that Punjabis deserved all praise for handling the situation.

He asked if Soni deserved to share stage with Sonia at the Chintan Shivir.

The three-time MLA and one-time MP said March 10 results of Punjab elections were proof that Punjabis did not vote on caste lines, but voted for a hope, and for better future.

In an apparent reference to former Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, who is a dalit leader, being made the CM of Punjab, Jakhar said, “I think it was poor attempt to portray Congress as BSP in Punjab”. He added that given a choice, dalits would vote for real BSP and not the pseudo BSP. He said if party though that it had created a national asset, then why that asset was not used in UP elections against Mayawati.

Jakhar also told Sonia about the authority of Akal Takht and said it was “not a small institution, but temporal seat of Sikhs”. He added that the statement of the Akal Takht jathedar should be written in golden letters as he had [purportedly] stated that “it does not make a difference being a Sikh or a Hindu in Punjab” after the controversy erupted over CM face in Punjab Congress.

Jakhar hit out at former Punjab affairs of incharge of the party Harish Rawat, terming his defeat in Uttarakhand as “divine justice” which he “deserved”. He blamed Congress’ debacle in Punjab largely to Rawat. Jakhar also minced no words to slam current party affairs iincharge for Punjab Harish Chaudhary over his purported remarks blaming Jakhar’s statements for party’s defeat in other States as well. “Why I was not thrown out of the party then if I was responsible,” said Jakhar.

Jakhar said AAP is often accused of being controlled from Delhi and added, “I don’t know about AAP, but Punjab Congress has been demolished by party leaders sitting in Delhi who know nothing about Punjab, Punjabiat and Sikhism.”

He said that Sonia should know that the member of the disciplinary action committee Tariq Anwar who served notice to him had [purportedly] quit party while protesting against her appointment as Congress president being a “foreign woman”.

Meanwhile, hours before his address, Jakhar removed all references to Congress party in his social media accounts.

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