“Good luck and goodbye Congress”, former Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said on Saturday as he announced his decision to quit the party which had last month removed him from all positions for alleged anti-party activities.
The 68-year-old disgruntled Congress leader, whose decision comes as the electorally battered party discusses the way forward during a three-day ‘Chintan Shivir' in Udaipur, went live on his Facebook page to make the announcement.
“It is my parting gift to the party. These are my last words to Congressmen. Good luck and goodbye Congress,” Jakhar said while asserting that it was the end of an association that spanned 50 years and three generations.
“You broke (my) heart,” Jakhar said in a no-holds-barred attack.
Jakhar's is the latest high profile resignation from the party. Among those who have exited the party recently are Amarinder Singh, Ashwani Kumar and RPN Singh, all long-time leaders of the party.
During his 'dil ki baat' Facebook live, Jakhar said the Udaipur meeting was nothing more than fulfilling a formality and should have been a “chinta shivir” instead of a “chintan shivir”, more about ‘worry' than ‘introspection'.
Stating that Congress governments had always faced allegations of kitchen cabinet and coteries, Jakhar alleged that in his 20 years of active politics “coteries have now turned into gangs”.
“I am saying this with full responsibility,” he said.
Offering advice to former president Rahul Gandhi, Jakhar said he should learn to make the distinction between friend and foe. He also asked him to take reins of the party in his hands and stay away from 'chaploos' (sycophants).
Stating that the Gandhi family's presence in the party was essential, Jakhar called Rahul Gandhi a very good, very fine and upright person and said it was because of him that he had been in the Congress for so many years.
"If you cannot understand the difference between friend and foe, then understand between assets and liabilities,” he said in his message to Rahul Gandhi.
Jakhar attacked some leaders “sitting in Delhi”, particularly targeting party leader Ambika Soni for her statement last year that the party should go with a Sikh face after Amarinder Singh was made to resign as the chief minister.
Jakhar, a three-time MLA, said Soni had once spoken against former prime minister Indira Gandhi. He claimed that till the Congress gets rid of such leaders, the party cannot gain ground in Punjab.
He reminded the party that it faced charges like pseudo-secularism and said, “You are wittingly or unwittingly endorsing such views.”
Jakhar had criticised former chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi and termed him a "liability" for the party after the Congress lost to the Aam Aadmi Party in Punjab.
Jakhar was among the front-runners for the chief ministerial post after Amarinder Singh was unseated last year. His chances were scuttled after Soni said the party should go with a Sikh face.
The former Punjab Congress chief had been upset with the party for serving him a show-cause notice. The Congress had last month removed him from all the party positions for alleged anti-party activities.
“Today, the party is facing an existential crisis,” he said, taking a swipe at the party's move to set up committees on issues such as economy and agriculture and asserting that it should first put its own house in order.
He talked about the party's severe drubbing in Uttar Pradesh, saying 390 party candidates could not secure even 2,000 votes and asked whether any committee was formed on it.
“Will there be any discussion on it?”
Jakhar also termed party leader Harish Rawat's defeat in the Uttarakhand polls “divine justice” and blamed him for the party's situation in Punjab.
“Rawat was sent to destabilise Amarinder (Singh),” Jakhar said, telling Sonia Gandhi that it was the work of opposition parties to destabilise the government.
“It was a controlled destabilisation,” alleged Jakhar, stating that Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had to tell people every 15 days that he would remain the chief minister.
“Do not drift from your ideology. You are losing your intellectual moorings,” he told the Congress.
Stating that he was clarifying his stand, Jakhar expressed his displeasure over being served a notice from party leader Tariq Anwar who he said was the person who once called Sonia Gandhi a foreigner.
In his view, he was removed as PPCC chief in July 2021 as he was considered close to Amarinder Singh.
Jakhar asked if his statements had harmed the party in the elections why was he not sacked.
Jakhar had rejected the charges against him and had said his statement was twisted and taken out of context.
He had also expressed regret if anybody was hurt by his comments.