On the day Congress’s former spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi joined the Shiv Sena, two days after alleging that “lumpen goons” were being given preference in the Congress over dedicated workers, The Indian Express spoke to leaders accused.
Pratap Singh, 71: Was an MLA from Chhata Assembly constituency — part of Mathura Lok Sabha seat – in 1989. His father Ram Het Singh, a freedom fighter, was MLA from Chhata for two terms in the 1950s, and unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls from Mathura in 1974. Singh was active as a Youth Congress leader. His two sons work in MNCs.
“Humpe gunda-gardi ka ilzaam laga diya gaya (I have been accused of being a lumpen). We met her (Chaturvedi) during the press conference to complain about factionalism (in local party unit), and she listened to us. We do not know what happened, but my name was dragged in. The Congress party is in my blood…. I am sure she would not even recognise me,” Singh said.
Ashok Singh, 50: Is the working president of Mathura District Congress Committee and member All-India Congress Committee (AICC). His grandfather Thakur Chakleshwar Singh was elected MP from Mathura in 1971. Singh was also a proposer of Congress candidate from Mathura in the ongoing polls, Mahesh Singh. Following factionalism in the Mathura unit, state Congress chief Raj Babbar appointed Singh as the district working president before 2017 Assembly polls.
“We have been working for the party all along. She (Chaturvedi) is like a sister. We only placed our point of view before her and left,” he said. Singh, however, said Chaturvedi’s decision to join the Sena is not surprising, given that “her relatives in Mathura, including her uncles, are known to have an RSS background”. Click here for more election news
Yaten Mukdam, 33: Is the Mathura district Youth Congress (YC) president and also an AICC member. He claims he was made the district YC president only 25 days ago. Asked how it was possible while in suspension, Mukdam said, “Technically, the district or state committee cannot suspend an AICC member and YC office-bearer. It can only be done after approval from national YC, which was not done in this case.”
Like the others, he also said he is not guilty of misbehaviour, and that Jyotiraditya Scindia, MP and party general secretary in charge of West UP, had looked into the case and decided to reinstate them. He said all of them were informed of this by the AICC observer for Mathura.
Praveen Thakur, 28: Is the general secretary of western zone state unit of National Student Union of India, the Congress’s student outfit. NSUI is divided into four zones in UP, and each zone has its state president. A former Mathura district president of NSUI, Thakur claimed to have been appointed general secretary of western zone about two months ago. The graduate from BSA College, Mathura, said: “Chaturvedi is like an elder sister. I was sitting on the dais with her during the press meet along with Ashok Singh-ji and Yaten-ji. I approached her for a selfie after afterward, and she obliged. There is no question of misbehaviour. She is too big a personality for us to be able to even speak in a high pitch. I am sure she would not even recognise me.”
The other four are:
* Abdul Jabbar, 63, an advocate and member of state Congress and vice-president of party’s district committee.
* Umesh Pandit, a former Congress candidate for Chhata Assembly seat, who lives primarily in Faridabad and is also general secretary of UP Congress.
* Giridhari Lal Pathak, about 60 year old and former general secretary of Mathura city Congress.
* Bhuri Singh Jayas, a former district president of Congress Sewa Dal.
Former Mathura MLA and former Congress Legislature Party leader Pradeep Mathur said: “While there was some misbehaviour, I do not want to get into the controversy of who did and who did not. All I can say is, Priyanka Chaturvedi took the decision in haste.”