This Article is From Mar 14, 2022

"Sycophancy" At Congress Post-Mortem Meet: Punjab Party Veteran

The Congress lost Punjab to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in polls last week.

The party high command - the Gandhis - had been "hoodwinked", said Sunil Jakhar

New Delhi:

Congress leader Sunil Jakhar said today that the party's disastrous Punjab campaign was a combination of "compounding one mistake after another" and bad choices driven by senior leaders "misleading" the Gandhis.

Reeling off a long list of problems that he said "could have been handled otherwise", Mr Jakhar said the defeat was "scripted by Harish Rawat"; the former Uttarakhand Chief Minister was Punjab in-charge.

"He came to Punjab with a set agenda," Mr Jakhar remarked, suggesting that this was to promote Navjot Singh Sidhu, who aggressively demanded top billing in the run-up to the Punjab election and who played a big role in Amarinder Singh's replacement as Chief Minister by Charanjit Singh Channi four months before the election.

"I suspected what he was up to. He got his agenda implemented at the cost of bickering. I told (Mallikarjun) Kharge - he may be in charge of the Punjab Congress but I never accepted him as my in-charge. You can be in charge of the Congress but you cannot be in charge of me," Mr Jakhar said.

The Congress, wracked by infighting in Punjab, lost to Arvind Kejriwal's eight-year-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in elections last week.

Mr Jakhar said he had hoped the problems would be discussed threadbare in the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting yesterday but instead, he saw "sycophants".

The former Punjab Congress chief also questioned the logic of leaving the choice of the party's Chief Ministerial candidate wide open even after appointing a new Chief Minister.

"After you have nominated Channi, it is insulting to ask who will be Chief Minister. How can you say that? A general fights the war for you and you will appoint another general? This is not the way," said Mr Jakhar.

Mr Jakhar was also asked about his acerbic post reacting to Mr Channi being described as an "asset" at a Congress post-mortem on Sunday and appearing to target Ambika Soni without naming her.

"An asset - are you joking? Thank God he (Channi) wasn't declared a 'National treasure' at the CWC by the 'Pbi' lady who proposed him as CM in first place" - Mr Jakhar tweeted this morning.

"Pbi is Punjabi," Mr Jakhar said. He did not deny that this "Punjabi lady" may be Ambika Soni, a long-time Rajya Sabha member who was reportedly offered the Chief Minister's post before Mr Channi but declined.

"Why do you want me to name her? She's very senior. "

He continued: "We stand by every word. You cannot fight corruption with corruption. (Channi)'s relative was caught red-handed. This man was caught with his hands in his till."

Putting out a serious allegation, Mr Jakhar said there was a perception that the new Chief Minister would get anything done in the limited time that he had and that Mr Channi acted out of greed.

But Mr Jakhar said he believes it is not all over for the Congress in Punjab.

"A ragtag outfit like the Aam Aadmi Party won't last long. But we have to put up a credible face here if we want to win."