Infighting hits Congress as party workers clash during Bhalla’s road-show in Akhnoor

Arteev Sharma. Updated: 4/12/2024 12:01:54 AM Front Page

Supporters of Tara Chand, Satish Sharma come to blows; ‘Not a big issue, no resentment against party’: JKPCC

Jammu: Struggling to regain its lost ground in Jammu region, the Congress’s efforts to put up a united front ahead of the Lok Sabha poll received a setback on Thursday when two groups, having allegiance to the former chief minister Tara Chand and Satish Sharma, son of two-time parliamentarian Madan Lal Sharma, engaged into the violent clash in full public glare in Akhnoor town.
The intra-party feud came to the fore in front of the Congress candidate from Jammu-Reasi seat Raman Bhalla and his hundreds of supporters, accompanying him, during a road show in the town. The party leadership, however, sought to downplay the incident, saying “it is not a major issue having no impact on the morale of party supporters”.
0If Congress insiders are to be believed, factionalism within the party was deep-rooted in Akhnoor sub-division which, according to them, has been affecting the morale of party workers at grassroots level adversely as they (party workers and supporters) were confused about where their loyalties should lie.
0“The incident took place when our party candidate Raman Bhalla reached Akhnoor town for a roadshow as a part of his election campaign. Some party workers, hailing from Pallanwala, started raising slogans in favour of the former deputy chief minister Tara Chand, while they were countered by the supporters of Satish Sharma who too started chanting slogans in favour of Sharma. It created a tense situation in the town,” a former Sarpanch and Congress leader told The News Now, declining to be named.
0Senior party leaders intervened and asked the party workers to desist from making slogans in favour of a particular leader and instead should raise slogans in praise of the Congress party and its candidate Raman Bhalla. “Despite their efforts, verbal exchanges turned physical, pushing and shoving until senior leaders stepped in to defuse the situation,” sources said.
0Unconfirmed reports also suggested that some workers of Satish Sharma asked to bring down party leader Tara Chand from the campaign vehicle as Sharma was walking along with his supporters on the road. Local leaders, however, did not confirm this assertion.
The party insiders suggested that the escalating internal discord between the two factions stems from political ambitions, with both leaders vying to solidify their influence in the Chhambconstituency..
“This is a clear instance of conflicting interests. Akhnoor assembly seat has been reserved for Scheduled Castes. Satish Sharma, who seemingly aspires to contest assembly polls, has been trying to carve out his political niche in the Chhamb constituency, which has been represented by former Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand on three occasions,” insiders said.
They further said, “Chhamb constituency was considered a stronghold of Jan Sangh in the 1980s and it was Satish Sharma’s father, Madan Lal Sharma who ensured the Congress making inroads in the segment and secured victory several times. It was Madan Lal Sharma who brought former deputy chief Tara Chand into politics and fielded him from the Chhamb seat after it was reserved for SC”.
“It wasn’t a major issue. It’s quite common for leaders to assert their presence on such occasions. No derogatory or objectionable slogans were raised. The workers involved in the altercation were expressing support for their respective leaders. It’s not a significant issue at all. There is no resentment within the party. Infact, the public has been posing questions to BJP candidates regarding their performance in the last ten years,” JKPCC Chief Spokesperson Ravinder Sharma said while reacting to the incident.
Sharma claimed that such petty issues would not affect the party’s performance in the current Lok Sabha polls.

Updated On 4/12/2024 12:04:15 AM

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