Cracking the whip, Congress on Thursday night suspended rebel party MP from Haryana Chaudhary Birender Singh and former CWC member Jagmeet Brar for "gross indiscipline" and "deliberately lowering the prestige of the party".
Brar, a senior leader from Punjab, had recently criticised the functioning of the party and had suggested that Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi should take a break for some time and hand over the reins of the party to somebody else.
Singh, who revolted against Haryana Chief Miniser Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had met BJP chief Amit Shah last month and appears set to dump the party and join BJP.
Singh would also be attending a rally at Kaithal in Haryana on August 18, to which Shah too has been invited, where he is likely to join that party.
Singh was dropped as a member of the party's apex decision making body Congress Working Committee on July 31, when the party also slapped a showcause notice to him pointing to media reports that he is "hobnobbing" with BJP leaders.
Brar was slapped a notice by the state unit of Punjab. Their issues were referred to the Central Disciplinary Committee after reports from the respective AICC general secretary in-charges of their states.
"The Central Disciplinary Committee has received complaints against Birender Singh, former General Secretary of the party and Jagmeet Brar, ex-MP and member AICC that they are deliberately acting in a way calculated to lower the prestige of the party.
"The disciplinary committee on the basis of facts has found them guilty of this act, which amounts to gross indiscipline and recommended that they be suspended from the membership of the party immediately," Party General Secretary in-charge of Organisation Janardan Dwivedi said.
He said the Congress President has accepted the recommendation of the disciplinary committee and therefore "Singh and Brar have been suspended from the party with immediate effect".
The tough action by the party is aimed at sending a strong signal to dissidents in the poll-bound state that the high command would not tolerate indiscipline on the eve of elections. In the case of Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, the party high command had made it clear that he will lead the party into elections scheduled by the year end ruling out the demand for his removal by the dissident camp.
Singh had earlier served as an AICC General Secretary and is a Rajya Sabha MP. He was made a member of CWC, the party's apex decision-making body during the last AICC reshuffle.
In the show cause letter to Singh on July 31, AICC General Secretary incharge of party affairs in Haryana Shakeel Ahmed had drawn his attention towards media reports of his meetings with BJP leaders including Shah.
The party had then said that there were media reports that he was hobnobbing with BJP leaders without any contradiction or denial from his side.
The faction-ridden Haryana unit of Congress is facing desertions of leaders, some of whom have joined the BJP camp, since the last Lok Sabha polls.
On August 5, former Lok Sabha member from Haryana Avtar Singh Bhadana resigned from the party alleging that the party is "on the verge of extinction" under Hooda's leadership.
Senior leader Rao Inderjit Singh, who quit the Congress and joined the BJP before the Lok Sabha polls, is now a minister at the Centre in Narendra Modi government.
Senior leader from Bhiwani region Dharambir also switched over to BJP and is now a MP from Bhiwani-Mahendergarh seat.
Former Union minister Venod Sharma too severed his four-decade old ties with the Congress to float his own Jan Chetna Party. Another turncoat, Ramesh Kaushik, won the Sonepat Lok Sabha constituency on a BJP ticket after quitting the Congress.
In case of Brar, taking a serious note of "irresponsible and highly undesirable utterances" of the former MP and senior leader from Punjab, state Congress President Pratap Singh Bajwa had on August 2 issued show cause notice to him seeking explanation for his conduct by August 5.