The Congress appointed Asha Kumari as party in-charge of Punjab, replacing Kamal Nath who stepped down from Punjab Congress incharge post earlier this month after he was criticised by the opposition parties over his alleged role in the 1984 Sikh genocide.
A member of the Himachal Pradesh Assembly, Ms. Kumari, 52, was convicted by a Chamba court in a land grab case in February. She is currently out on bail.
Congress Sources say that the Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh wanted somebody with a low profile unlike the last time. But the current appointment has been marred with controversy
And Ms. Asha Kumari is considered a “soft-spoken, easy-going politician” who can make Capt. Singh feel at ease. She has served in various capacities in the party.
Senior Congress leader Janardhan Diwedi told journalists that Ms. Kumari’s designation is “in-charge” and it should not be misconstrued as “general secretary in charge,” a post to which only senior-most politicians can aspire for.
Charge against Kamal Nath
Kamal Nath’s appointment in early June as general secretary in-charge of Punjab drew flak from the State’s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the opposition Aam Aadmi Party.
The two parties targeted Mr. Nath, accusing him of being involved in the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi after the former Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984.
On June 15, Mr. Nath wrote a letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, saying he had been “hurt” by the criticism of the opposition parties and offered to step down as an “unnecessary controversy has been created around 1984 riots.” Ms. Gandhi was quick to accept his resignation.
Land dispute case
She was an aggressive Youth Congress leader during the days of Indira Gandhi. She is facing a land dispute case, and was convicted by a special court at Chamba. The sentence was suspended by the High Court.
Her appointment is seen as important because of the cases of corruption and disproportionate assets being faced by Mr. Virbhadra Singh. Senior leader Anand Sharma has declared his inability to return to the State politics, and the high command is on the lookout for a leader of Mr. Virbhadra Singh’s calibre.
BJP TERMS IT ‘UNFORTUNATE’
The appointment of Asha Kumari has become another war of words between the parties in Punjab. The BJP has termed it as an unfortunate. While the congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit has called these cases as politically motivated.
He adds, “There has been a political conspiracy and she is being targeted and the matter is sub-judice. All legal options will be explored in the case.”
It seems that Once again the congress has shot itself in the foot. In a highly surcharged election season every chink in the armour will be exploited by the opponents to the maximum. This appointment will certainly create sparks in the days to come. Though Asha Kumari may be gods gift for Punjab but questions which needs an answer is the congress so bereft of talent that it had nobody else to rely on?