After a brief lull following the formation of the INDIA bloc, the sharpness of attacks on each other has already increased.
That there is no indication of truce or tapering off the attacks became clear from Congress legislature party leader Partap Singh Bajwa‘s statement on Monday. Just after returning from the Hyderabad meeting, he ridiculed AAP national convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s statement that Bhagwant Mann was the best CM that Punjab ever had.
CM Mann and other AAP leaders had stopped attacking the Congress after the INDIA bloc was formed. However, the Punjab Congress leaders not only continued to attack the government, but also opposed the alliance.
Punjab Congress leaders have been claiming that there was an overwhelming sentiment against the alliance with the AAP and joining hands with the ruling party would damage its prospects in the state. Interestingly, the INDIA bloc was formed to counter the BJP, which is not a major threat in Punjab.
The bitterness precipitated after the Punjab Congress leaders strongly rejected the idea of alliance in the wake of Punjab finance minister Harpal Singh Cheema’s statement that the two parties would share seats in the state for the 2024 general elections. Later, CM Mann had said the AAP knew how to contest and win the elections alone.
On September 9, the CM launched a fresh attack on Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring, alleging that the latter had “minted money illegally by installing bodies of buses from Rajasthan” and details of the “scam” would be shared soon.
With the attacks from both sides getting sharper, the CWC meeting at Hyderabad could be a turning point in the relations between the two parties even as the Congress high command on Sunday assured the Punjab unit that its opinion would be sought before finalising anything. In such a scenario, the Punjab Congress leaders will not be in a position to change their stance or tone down their criticism of the AAP government.
“The bitterness between the two parties has been on the rise and it will only increase further as both the parties look to cater to their respective constituencies. It will be difficult to patch-up, if not impossible. Moreover, in such a situation, prospects of getting their cadres and supporters to work for each other’s candidate will also diminish,” said a senior Punjab Congress leader.