Chandigarh, May 14: Sunil Jakhar, senior Congress leader and former chief of its Punjab unit, quit the party today, weeks after he was issued a show-cause notice by the leadership over his criticism of former Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.
"Goodbye, and good luck, Congress," Jakhar said in a Facebook live video after scathing criticism of former party colleagues who led the action against him.
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. Last month, the Congress' disciplinary panel had recommended that 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 Jakhar was attended by members Tariq Anwar, JP Aggarwal, and G Parameswar, besides Antony. Ambika Soni, seen as Jakhar's bete noire, was not present during the meeting. The former Punjab Congress chief had criticized former Chief Minister Channi and termed him a liability for the party after it lost to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab. Jakhar had also been critical of the party leadership for picking Channi as Chief Ministerial candidate for the elections and had hit out at 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, 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.
Jakhar was being considered a front runner for the top post and Soni's remark supposedly ruined his prospects. Hitting out at her, Jakhar said the remark spoiled the Congress's chances in the Assembly polls. "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 the Hindu-Sikh brotherhood.