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Friday, July 20, 2018

Punjab: Day after, disquiet in Congress over resolution in Sukhpal Khaira drug case

Some leaders felt that the party went after Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira to “please a confidant” of the CM.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh | Published: December 1, 2017 12:14:03 pm
sukhpal singh khaira, punjab congress, khaira drugs case, punjab haryana hc, punjab vidhan sabha 2 day session, punjab news, indian express Sukhpal Singh Khaira

A day after Punjab Vidhan Sabha passed a resolution urging the High Court to take suo motu notice of “scandalous allegations against a judge” in Khaira drugs case, there was disquiet in the Congress with some leaders feeling that the party went after Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira to “please a confidant” of the CM.

While no tears are being shed for Khaira in the party, some leaders, who did not wish to be named, felt that in contrast despite more than half of the party MLAs asking the government to act against former Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia in alleged drug racket, the plea was ignored.

A few leaders also felt it was CM Amarinder Singh’s way of sending a message that he was firmly behind his Cabinet minister Rana Gurjit Singh, whom Khaira has been attacking over the recent sand mining auctions. “The resolution was a self-goal. We have conveyed a message that we will do anything to go after Khaira, but bully our MLAs to go quiet on Majithia,” said a minister requesting anonymity.

As many as 40 Congress MLAs had written a letter to Chief Minister seeking action against Majithia. Amarinder later made it clear he would not engage in “vendetta politics”.

A legislator, preferring anonymity, said, “They did not let anyone get a wind of the resolution. Just imagine that Punjab’s Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who shares the bench with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Brahm Mohindra, and was seated with him for over four hours was not told about it. What is the message they want to convey us?”

A minister said that a whisper campaign was launched in the party just a few days ahead of the session that the Chief Minister does not like anyone raising Majithia issue. “This silenced all the MLAs, who did not say a word against Majithia. Nobody raked the issue even though on Tuesday High Court had given an important direction against Majithia.” Interestingly, Sidhu, who has been vociferous against Majithia did not speak a word against him in the Assembly…,” he said.

“We have been feeling that the resolution was timed in such a way that it was the last item on the session’s agenda and no party MLA is able to raise Majithia issue. There is a disquiet in the party about the whole episode. We are the ones who get asked questions from people about Majithia, “ said a party member.

Defending the state government’s move, Punjab Congress President Sunil Jakhar said there was nothing to read in the resolution. “Khaira too met the Chief Justice demanding a probe into that audio tape. We too have urged the CJ to take action,” he said.

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