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Congress ex-chief Sunil Jakhar of Punjab quits party after disciplinary move

By Priyanka Verma 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar on Saturday, May 14, resigned from the party, weeks after he was issued a showcause notice by the leadership over his criticism of former Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.

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His remarks come at a time when the Congress leadership is meeting in Udaipur in a desperate attempt to put its house in order to take on the BJP.

He announced his decision to quit on Facebook. In an almost 35-minute-long Facebook live, the former Punjab Congress chief shared his “dil ki baat” and announced that he is quitting the party.

“Good luck and goodbye Congress,” ‘heartbroken’ Jakhar said while parting ways with the Sonia Gandhi-led party.

Jakhar on Friday had written on Twitter that he would share his “Dil Ki Baat” on Saturday. He shared his Facebook live session on Saturday with the same title.

Last month, the Congress’ disciplinary panel had recommended that Mr Jakhar be suspended from the party for two years and removed from all posts.

The five-member Committee is chaired by senior party leader AK Antony. The meeting on what action should be taken against Mr Jakhar was attended by members Tariq Anwar, JP Aggarwal and G Parameswar, besides Mr Antony.

Ambika Soni, seen as Mr Jakhar’s bete noire, was not present during the meeting.The former Punjab Congress chief had criticised former Chief Minister Channi and termed him a liability for the party after it lost to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab.

Mr Jakhar had also been critical of the party leadership for picking Mr Channi as Chief Ministerial candidate for the elections, and had hit out at Ms Soni for supposedly scuttling his chances of being picked as Chief Minister after Amarinder Singh’s ouster.

Amid the crisis in Punjab Congress after Amarinder Singh’s resignation in September, Ms Soni had said she turned down an offer for the Chief Minister post and told the leadership that only a Sikh should be chosen for the job.

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“Ambika Soni’s comments spoiled our chances in polls. Her comments defamed Sikhs and the Hindus of Punjab,” he said. Addressing Congress president Sonia Gandhi, he added, “I urge you (Sonia Gandhi) to ask her (Soni) if she knows what Sikhism is,” he added, accusing her of trying to create a rift in Hindu-Sikh brotherhood.

Targeting Ms Soni again, the estranged Congress leader said she had jumped ship in 1977. “She used to work with Sanjay Gandhi ji and was close to Indira Gandhi ji, but in 1977, she jumped ship and contested from Chandigarh against the Congress candidate,” he said.

“And see who has issued a showcause notice to me, Tariq Anwar, a man who switched to the NCP demanding that a woman of foreign origin can’t be the PM,” Mr Jakhar added.

Taking a swipe at the Congress’ brainstorming session, he said it is nothing more than fulfilling a “formality”. “The party is facing an existential crisis and we are behaving as if the country’s responsibility is on our shoulders. As they say, there are many ideas to decorate the house, but first decide how to save it.”

Speaking about the Punjab election results, he said voters did not vote on religious and caste lines but as Punjabis hoping for a better future. He congratulated the voters of the state for not falling for the “poisonous seeds sown” by Congress leaders.

“I would request Sonia Gandhi, do politics across the country, but spare Punjab, it has seen very dark days. Punjab is one,” he said.

“You did not sever ties with me, you broke my heart, you issued a notice, were you all ashamed to talk to me? I would have given all the answers,” he added.

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On Rahul Gandhi, Jakhar praised the former Congress president as a “good person” and appealed to him to once again take command of the party while keeping a distance from “chaploos log” (sycophants).

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