Suspended by Congress over a BJP flag, MLA Sandeep Jakhar digs heels in

On August 16, Congress Abohar MLA Sandeep Jakhar was suspended for “anti-party activities”, including defending his uncle Sunil Jakhar, the BJP’s Punjab unit chief. The immediate provocation for the party, as noted by the Congress Disciplinary Action Committee in its order, was “a BJP flag” atop the house that the two Jakhars share.

Now that pennant is threatening to flag deeper resentments within the party.

Sunil Jakhar was the Congress state president till 2021, and last year, left the party to join the BJP. Recently, the BJP named him its Punjab chief. Sandeep claims an “ulterior motive” behind his suspension now and, speaking to The Indian Express, points to the fact that Partap Singh Bajwa, the Congress MLA from Qadian and its Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, lives with his younger brother and BJP member Fatehjang Singh Bajwa, and that the Bajwa ancestral home too sports a BJP flag.

Partap replies that there is no parallel between his and Sandeep’s cases. “There is a vast difference. He (Fatehjang) quit the Congress and joined the BJP, contested from Batala on a BJP ticket and lost. On the other hand, Sandeep Jakhar got elected after contesting on a Congress ticket and is now betraying the party. Sandeep owes his salary as an MLA to the Congress,” Partap told The Indian Express.

There is another difference, he adds. While he has “three Congress flags” atop their ancestral home, Partap says, Fatehjang had put up BJP flags on the ground floor where he lives. “On the other hand, the house where Sandeep lives only has a BJP flag. If he had guts, he would have put up a Congress flag.”

Partap adds that he and Fatehjang live together as a joint family. “If he (Fatehjang) has put BJP flags on his portion in the joint house, how can I ask him to remove the flag? The ancestral house and land are yet to be bifurcated,” he says.

However, as Partap’s name gets dragged in, in relation to his case, Sandeep alleges that this might have been the main purpose, to keep the senior Congress leader in check. “Everyone is talking about this. Press is asking me that a flag is there (at the Bajwa residence too). They put that as a reason for my suspension, they could have just suspended me. However, citing the flag as a reason for my suspension speaks of the ongoing internal turmoil in the Congress,” he says.

Sandeep says the evidence is there for all to see. “I never drew any parallel, but only pointed out that this particular line (about the BJP flag) that they added in the suspension letter doesn’t make any sense. Because when you suspend, it is clear that I am not taking part in any activities. Whoever added this line, this was to go against Partap Singh Bajwa. This reflects the internal politics of the Congress… If my uncle is the BJP president, of course the BJP flag will be flying at his house.”

A senior party leader repeats Partap’s argument, saying Sandeep’s case was different as he was still an elected Congress MLA. “Now that Sandeep wants to be with his uncle, he should resign from the Congress and then contest elections again,” the leader says.

Sandeep says he won’t be resigning. “People of Abohar have given me this responsibility. I am fulfilling this responsibility and when the time comes, people will decide… I am going to carry on doing my work,” he says, adding: “I am drawing salary as an MLA first and then a Congress nominee. And as they have suspended me from the party, I am no longer a ‘Congress’ MLA.”

He adds that he made his support for his uncle clear to the Congress last year, when Sunil left to join the BJP. “From day one, I had the guts to make this very. During the past year, at every forum, every interview, I have always made it clear that Sunilji is my leader… I don’t see any contradiction in that. The party has known for a year that I am with Sunilji.”

Sandeep adds that despite this, his Congress colleagues, including Partap, had always been supportive all this while.

Sunil too defends his nephew. “We are proud of the fact that we are living together in a joint family house. This is something the Punjab Congress leaders cannot swallow. They should appreciate the fact that in these times and in this culture, when everybody has become so individualistic, we hold our values, customs and culture dear. I think this is beyond their comprehension.”

On Sandeep’s suspension from the Congress, the Punjab BJP chief says: “Whether he has indulged in anti-party activities or not is for Sandeep to answer. What I heard from reports is that he was never asked to reply as per due process.”

Partap, meanwhile, gives “umpteen” examples of members of the same family in different parties.

While former Congress Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh joined the BJP last year, his wife Preneet Kaur is the sitting Congress MLA from Patiala. Charanjit Singh Channi, who was briefly the chief minister, belongs to the Congress, but his brother Manohar Singh contested as an Independent in the 2022 Assembly polls after he was denied a ticket by the Congress. Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal’s cousin Manpreet is a BJP member and was previously in the Congress, too. Congress member and former Deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa’s brother Inderjit Singh Randhawa left the party briefly to join SAD before returning.

“There are hundreds of such cases, at the national level as well, including (last year’s Opposition presidential candidate) Yashwant Sinha and his son (BJP MP Jayant Sinha). Count all the top families of India. What is wrong with this? It is not limited to one family, but in scores of scores of families,” Partap says. “I cannot take responsibility (for what) my brother (does). Even a father cannot take responsibility for his son, here we are talking about brothers.”

This post was created with our nice and easy submission form. Create your post!

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

    Three leaders in a spat, rocking Jamnagar BJP’s boat

    Leading charge against Pinarayi Vijayan, daughter is first-time Cong MLA, Rahul Gandhi’s pick