Jalandhar, April 30: Infighting in the Congress over the candidature for the May 28 Shahkot bypoll came to fore on Monday as five party leaders from the constituency decided not to support Hardev Laddi Sherowalia, who is among the frontrunners for the ticket.
An aide of former minister Rana Gurjit Singh, Laddi had contested the 2017 Assembly poll, but lost to SAD’s Ajit Singh Kohar.
Since last week, several leaders had levelled allegations against Laddi over his links with the sand mafia. A “sting operation” against him, too, had surfaced on Saturday.
Laddi claimed that it was a malicious campaign designed by his rivals within the party to sabotage his chances for the party ticket.
The five party leaders who have sought a “non-controversial” candidate are former minister Brij Bhupinder Lally, PPCC spokesperson Navjot Dahiya, general secretary Rajanbir Singh, District Congress Committee (Rural) president Capt Harminder Singh and district farmer cell incharge Puran Singh Thind. “Our party came to power on the agenda of ending corruption and mafia raj, especially against sand mafia and drugs. Ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the Shahkot bypoll is important. If we field a controversial leader, even campaigning for him will be difficult,” they said.
Illegal mining remains a major issue here. On Monday, Jasvir Singh, a villager whose 6 acres fall in a legal khud of Kaimwala village, alleged that a deal was being settled between Laddi and mining contractor Surjit Singh for the site. “I had been taken along there by the contractor since I was not getting paid. Since the day the video got viral, I have been getting threats from Laddi’s supporters. On Tuesday, I will move the Punjab and Haryana High Court,” he said.
Laddi used social media to counter the video clip. “I was nowhere talking about my personal gain. I was only trying to resolve the issue,” he claimed.
PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar said: “Allegations against leaders are common during elections. Why were these people sitting on such issues all this while? In any case, the party will take due care before making any announcement, which may come in two-three days.”