Explained: Why former Punjab chief Sunil Jakhar has been removed from all Congress positions

“ Aaj, sar kalam honge unke jinme abhi zameer baaki hai . (Today, those with a conscience will be beheaded). (My apologies to Javed Akhtar S...

Aaj, sar kalam honge unke jinme abhi zameer baaki hai. (Today, those with a conscience will be beheaded). (My apologies to Javed Akhtar Saheb),” wrote Sunil Jakhar on Twitter yesterday, the same day the Congress decided to remove him from all party positions for alleged anti-party activities.

The decision to remove Jakhar, the former Punjab unit chief, was taken by the Congress Disciplinary Committee chaired by party veteran AK Antony.

The committee also decided to remove Kerala leader KV Thomas from all party positions and suspend five of its MLAs in Meghalaya.

Here’s a look back at what happened and why Sunil Jakhar has been stripped of all his positions within the party.

Jakhar’s charges against Charanjit Singh Channi

The action against Jakhar comes on the heels of a complaint written by AICC in-charge of Punjab, Harish Chaudhary, to Congress president Sonia Gandhi flagging her attention to some of his statements.

The former Punjab unit chief has made several disparaging comments against Charanjit Singh Channi, the former chief minister, in the run-up to the Assembly elections and even blamed Channi for the party’s poor performance in the state.

It all began after Captain Amarinder Singh quit the party and many believed that Jakhar would be the Congress’ choice for chief ministerial candidate. However, the party chose to go with Charanjit Singh Channi.

At the time, Jakhar targeted senior Congress leader Ambika Soni for allegedly objecting to his candidature, saying only a Sikh can become a chief minister in Punjab.

Jakhar was very vocal about his criticism against Channi, saying his ‘common man’ posturing was just an eyewash. “He is a Jalimal (fake) and has a fake degree of poverty and honesty. I had told Rahul Gandhi that I cannot work with him and know who he is. There is nothing in him. He is nothing except his religious identity,” Jakhar said in an interview, as per an India Today report.

Following the Congress’ drubbing in the state, Jakhar once again took aim at Channi, saying the latter had been a “liability” and added his “greed pulled him down.”

Jakhar’s comments came after reports emerged that Ambika Soni during the Congress Working Committee meeting had said that the state leadership had not supported Channi even as the high command had created a national asset in the leader by naming him the chief minister.

The straw that broke the camel’s back came later in April when Jakhar had made alleged anti-Dalit statements when he criticised Channi.

During an interview, Jakhar reportedly said: “I had warned not to give someone importance like this... if you lift someone from the ground and put on your head... One leader had even said that he has been given so much that he cannot handle. This is a question of a status. The place of the shoes is always on the ground. Put them there. The leadership has to know where to keep everybody in their place.”

The comments angered the Dalit community, as well several of Jakhar’s colleagues in the party. Former Congress MLA Raj Kumar Verka and Aruna Chaudhary accused Jakhar of using “objectionable language” against the Dalits and demanded that he be expelled from the party.

Reacting to this, Jakhar said he had always respected every religion and community, as PTI reports, adding that his statement had been twisted and taken out of context.

Action against KV Thomas

The Congress disciplinary committee also recommended removing Kerala’s KV Thomas from all party positions had attended a seminar organised by the CPI(M) on 9 April in the state against the party's wishes and local state leaders had been seeking action against him.

Both the senior leaders have remained mum on the action taken by the party against them. It is left to be seen what happens next, but it’s crucial that the Congress is able to hold its flock together at this juncture when they are seeing an exodus of leaders and facing one electoral loss after another.

With inputs from agencies

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Explained: Why former Punjab chief Sunil Jakhar has been removed from all Congress positions
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