Jakhars of Abohar: In Warring’s crosshairs, Congress MLA and Sunil Jakhar’s nephew Sandeep dares party to expel him

On August 14, Warring challenged Sandeep Jakhar to resign from the party and get fresh mandate from the people if he was so confident about their support in his constituency.

Amarinder Singh Raja Warring and Sandeep Jakhar. (Images: Facebook)

The first time the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC)’s president Amarinder Singh Raja Warring trained his guns on former state party chief Sunil Kumar Jakhar was on June 4 – a few weeks after the latter switched to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – during his campaign for the Sangrur Lok Sabha seat bypoll. Warring had then also targeted his nephew Sandeep Jakhar, the 45-year-old Congress MLA from Abohar, saying that Sunil could have also taken the latter along with him to the BJP fold.

On August 14, while addressing a public meeting on the concluding day of the state Congress’s six-day-long Tiranga Yatra in Abohar in Fazilka district, Warring challenged Sandeep Jakhar to resign from the party and get fresh mandate from the people if he was so confident about their support in his constituency. He again slammed Sunil Jakhar for “betraying” the Congress and “sabotaging” its prospects in the February Punjab Assembly polls swept by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Sandeep was conspicuous by his absence at the Congress’s event. He instead held his own “freedom run” event on August 14 morning. He had won from Abohar by defeating AAP candidate Deepak Kamboj by 5471 votes despite the AAP wave. AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had ended his poll campaign by holding a road show in Abohar too.

For the past few months, Sandeep’s relationship with his party has been strained and even hostile. He and Sunil, whom he calls his “political guru”, live in the same palatial house in Abohar.

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Speaking to The Indian Express, Sandeep said, “Although I had  removed the Congress flag from my house in June itself but I will continue to serve Abohar as their MLA as they put their trust in me despite a very strong ‘badlaav (change)’ wave. I will not resign (from the Congress). If they (Congress) want to throw me out, it is up to them. Statements of PPCC president indicate some sort of fear in his mind. Soon after taking charge of the state party unit, he (Warring) had said that the party discipline is a must and matters should be discussed on a party platform but it seems that he himself needs to practise what he preaches.”

He said, “Ours is a joint family and as Sunil ji is the family head, so our house flies the flag of his political party (BJP)..And the national flag is also hoisted on top of the house.”

He said if the Congress wants to expel him the party could do so by following proper procedures and sending him a notice. “Why is Warring instead issuing statements after statements against me,” he asked.


Sandeep said, “Now I am thinking of writing to AICC president Sonia Gandhi to apprise her of these developments… The party needs to come out clearly with its stand.”

Claiming that he never had any discussion with Sunil on the question of his joining the BJP, he however conceded that “I am upset with the way PPCC chief is handling things now when we have only 18 MLAs. For the past 3 months, I have not been attending Congress meetings, but no one is asking me anything,” adding that during the recent Budget session of the state Assembly, Warring never communicated with him even once. “This is not the way a party president should behave, but I have some decorum as I belong to the Jakhar family and will hence continue to maintain it.”

The estranged Congress MLA however indicated that the party’s Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Partap Singh Bajwa, had been in touch with him.


Hitting out at Warring for “betraying the Congress leadership’s arrogance even amid the current crisis” and questioning him over his Sunil Jakhar connection, he said, “In that case, they need to ask the same question of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi because even within their family Maneka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi are part of BJP. Partap Singh Bajwa’s brother Fateh Jang Bajwa is with BJP.   Perneet Kaur is in Congress while her husband Capt Amarinder Singh heads Punjab Lok Congress, a BJP ally. So there should be the same yardstick for everyone… why am I being singled out?”

Sunil had been Abohar MLA for three consecutive terms since 2002 before losing the poll in 2017. He was then however named as the PPCC chief. He also won the Gurdaspur parliamentary seat bypoll. In the 2019 general elections, however, Sunil lost the seat to the BJP’s Sunny Deol.  On May 14 this year, he quit the Congress and joined the saffron party on May 19.

Referring to Sunil’s case, Sandeep charged, “They (Congress) had earlier done the same with Sunil ji… they had made up their mind for him as well. However, he (Sunil) waited till the last moment for Sonia Gandhi to talk to him once and listen to his version and when no  communication came he joined BJP and clearly told JP Nadda that he had joined his party with a very heavy heart.”

The Punjab Congress had charged Sandeep with allegedly cross-voting in the Presidential poll last month in favour of the NDA candidate, Droupadi Murmu, who won.

Questioning why he was singled out when three party MLAs were then said to have cross-voted in the state, Sandeep, when asked about his future plans, refrained from disclosing much except maintaining that “I will continue to serve people as Abohar MLA”.

First published on: 16-08-2022 at 07:05:59 pm
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