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Disgruntled MPs drag down Congress poll campaign in Punjab

Charanjit Singh Channi and Navjot Singh Sidhu with other congress leaders.

In a major blow to the Congress in Punjab, its disgruntled MPs are not toeing the party line and are turning out to be a bane in the poll campaign with voting scheduled for February 20 in the state.

At least three MPs are refraining from campaigning for the party candidates and are raising questions regarding the candidates that the high command has chosen for the assembly elections. They had clearly expected to have a greater say in the choice.

Khadoor Sahib MP Jasbir Singh Dimpa Gill has tweeted asking his supporters to vote for honest candidates irrespective of the party to which they belong. Dimpa has a significant following in the Majha belt north of the Beas river covering Baba Bakala, Jandiala  Guru, Khadoor Sahib, Amritsar (South), Amritsar (East), Tarn Taran, Raja Sahnsi, Majitha, Ajnala, and Attari constituencies.

Dimpa's brother Harpinder Singh Rajan Gill has quit Congress and joined the Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal. Rajan said that he had joined the Akali Dal with the consent of the members of the family indicating that Dimpa too had given his concurrence. The Gill family is upset at what it calls the “sale of party tickets” by Congress. There is speculation that this could be a signal by Dimpa to the party that he may also quit the Congress to join the Akali Dal. 

Anandpur Sahib MP Manish Tiwari is firing salvos against the high command every day. He criticised the decision to oust Captain Amarinder Singh and the manner in which PPCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu has been allowed to function.

Tewari told the media that he will air his views after February 20, the date of voting, implying that he had grudges against the party which need to be addressed.

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, wife of Captain Amarinder Singh, continues to campaign for her husband who has floated his own party the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) entering into an alliance with the BJP. Preneet Kaur has not publically come out against the party high command but is unhappy about the manner in which Captain was unceremoniously ousted. It is only a matter of time before she exits the party.

Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu was unhappy till recently for he had been ignored during Rahul Gandhi's recent visit to Ludhiana to announce the Chief Ministerial face of the party. To placate Bittu, Congress has now constituted an Election Management Committee and Bittu has been made its chairman.

On January 27, when Rahul visited the Golden Temple to formally launch the election campaign of the party, none of the MPs came to attend the event though all the candidates announced for the Assembly elections were present. It became a major talking point with many saying that the MPs were disenchanted with the party as due weight was not given to their opinion during the allotment of tickets.

Also read: Punjab Chief Minister Channi touches Sidhu’s feet showing the Punjab Congress chief may be down but not out