Congress party’s choice for its Punjab poll in-charge has once again sparked a big controversy. The appointment of Himachal Pradesh MLA Asha Kumari, who replaced senior hand Kamal Nath, has served a readymade issue to its opponents – Akali Dal, BJP and AAP. Kumari, an MLA representing Dalhousie assembly, was given one-year imprisonment by a Chamba court in February this year but is currently on bail.
Earlier, Kamal Nath had to resign from the position after uproar by the opposition parties over his alleged role in 1984 Delhi riots.
Amid the fresh stroke of controversy to the already crisis-ridden grand old party, Asha Kumari on Monday met the Congress party president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi.
“Kumari will continue to be in-charge of Punjab and would focus on the poll-bound state. However, she would not continue as AICC Secretary in charge of Haryana, a responsibility she was handling for quite some time under the AICC General Secretary concerned,” AICC sources said.
Asha Kumari, a veteran in Himachal politics, was on Sunday yesterday appointed party in-charge of Punjab where the polls are slated to be held early next year. Kumari has served in various capacities in the party.
She was convicted on February 26 in the land grab case by a Chamba court and sentenced to one year imprisonment, besides being fined Rs 8,000. The court had held her guilty of criminal conspiracy. On March 19, the Himachal Pradesh High Court suspended the one-year sentence.
Her news of her appointment gave opposition parties an instant reason to gherao the Congress party, which is fighting an existential battle in Punjab.
“First it was Kamal Nath and now Asha Kumari, who has been sentenced 1-year jail by court in a case of land grab that too recently. I think they don’t have good leaders,” Punjab BJP leader Vineet Joshi said.
Another opponent AAP, which is hoping for a windfall gains in the state polls, slammed Kumari’s appointment.
“By appointing Asha Kumari as Punjab incharge, Congress party has proved they are not serious about getting rid of corruption in the state… After tainted Kamal Nath, her appointment shows Congress is short of clean leaders,” AAP’s Rajouri Garden MLA Jarnail Singh said.
However, speculations are rife that Asha Kumari could well be a stop-gap arrangement before party comes up with a senior hand appointed as General Secretary in-charge of the state.
(With inputs from the PTI)