While gearing up for the Assembly polls in four states, the Congress on Friday invoked ghost of a departed leader to select candidates.
Not a joke. It actually happened and that too from the signatures of no less than Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who just two months ago, expressing condolences with the bereaved family of Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam, included the departed leader, to team up with four other top leaders, to shortlist and screen candidates for the assembly polls.
Taking a lead over other parties, forming committees to screen candidates for four states of Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir, scheduled to go for assembly elections shortly, the nomination of Chaudhry Mohammad Aslam, who died on June 15, to shortlist and select candidates has caused discomfort to his family. A family member, when contacted, took pot-shots on Congress central leaders for not allowing the departed leaders’ soul to rest in peace. “They insulted him, when he was alive. Despite a clean image, he was not given a portfolio in the cabinet or any significant post in the party and now after his death, they have made him to select candidates for the assembly elections,” a relative of Aslam told dna from Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir.
When contacted, a senior Congress leader while admitting it was a faux paux, said in all four states for whom committees were announced, leaders of legislative party were included in the screening committees. Aslam till his death on June 15 was Congress legislative party (CLP) leader. The leader said, they would correct the press note shortly. But, even when they corrected, they just removed Aslam’s name, but retained CLP leader, little knowing that after Aslam’s departure, nobody has been yet nominated as CLP leader in Jammu and Kashmir assembly.
A veteran congressman and sitting member assembly from Surankote, Aslam, passed away at the age of 70. He was dysfunctional for over past three years following paralytic attack and was hardly attending either assembly or a party function. Though originally from Poonch, after partition family of Aslam had crossed over to Pakistan administered Kashmir (PaK) but returned to native place in 1951. He remained J&K Pradesh Congress Committee chief for 17 years.
Sonia Gandhi, who made him the screening committee member, in a condolence message on June 15, expressed her deep sorrow over the demise of Chaudhary Aslam.” I conveyed her message to the family members of the deceased,” she said in a statement.
Meanwhile, former Railway Minister and now leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge is chairman of the screening committee for Maharashtra, with Ahmedabad-based AICC secretary Deepak Babaria as one of its four members. Other members as usual are Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, PCC chief Manikrao Thakre and AICC general secretary incharge of Maharashtra Mohan Prakash.
AICC general secretary Ajay Maken heads the screening committee for Jammu and Kashmir, with Kolkata-based AICC secretary Shubhankar Sarkar, AICC general secretary incharge Ambika Soni, PCC chief Saifuddin Soz and CLP leader as its members, according to corrected press note. Rajasthan-based former union minister Jitendra Singh, a protégé of Rahul Gandhi, heads the screening committee for Jharkhand and former Kerala MP P C Chacko heads one for Haryana.(ends)