Chandigarh: Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh’s much hyped dharna at Dinanagar on Wednesday turned out to be a major embarrassment for the party as Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa slapped Pathankot district chief of Congress Sewa Dal, I S Gulati, during the event. The slap was followed by a scuffle among party men at the show-of-strength rally, where the former PPCC president and sitting Rajya Sabha member Partap Singh Bajwa was also present among other senior leaders. The Congress was holding dharna against the non- payment of dues of sugarcane by mill owners to the farmers, where it all happened in full public view just before the arrival of Amarinder Singh.
It is learnt that the Congress leaders turned into physical duel as there was a rush among the partymen to get packed in the enclosure marked out as the stage. Alike others, Gulati too was struggling hard to get space in that VIP enclosure before the arrival of Amarinder and other seniors. It was Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa who was organising the stage. Randhawa, who happens to be the vice president of the party, objected to the chaos when Gulati and his supporters were entering the enclosure. Gulati asked him to let him in, claiming that he too was holding a respectable position in the party.
The things took the shape of heated argument and unable to control his aggression, the fuming Randhawa gave a forceful slap to Gulati. Finding it a major embarrassment, Gulati too made an attempt to retaliate with the same pace but he missed. As the things took place in the presence of media persons, the Congressmen hurriedly swung into fire fighting mode. As they all intervened, an agitated Gulati opted to move out of the venue in protest. It was not enough for Randhawa’s supporters as they went on chasing Gulati and his men who were raising slogans against the MLA and even hurling abuses as well.
Once they came across, the two groups had a melee and Gulati’s turban got tossed. The turbanless Gulati was found putting his best to counter the attacks of his rivals. Meanwhile, some female activists of Seva Dal also intervened and the assailants ran away. Later, Gulati’s group staged a dharna against Randhawa outside the venue. Speaking to media persons on the spot, Gulati claimed that he would approach All India Congress Committee (AICC) vice president Rahul Gandhi with a demand of Randhawa’s removal from the party.
“If we are not given justice, we will leave the Congress,” Gulati announced. Explaining his position in the ruckus, he said: “I was just trying to get a place on the stage as I am the district Sewa Dal chief but the local MLA got agitated on seeing me and went on slapping me. He also used foul language against me.” “I tried to meet Capt Amarinder Singh, but failed in the attempt as I was not allowed to go near him,” he mentioned. On the other hand, when media persons posed the related question to Capt Amarinder Singh, he moved out without answering the query.
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