Dear Madam President,
I have been in Public Life for over fifty-two years now. Upon leaving the Indian Army after serving in the 1965 war, when my father was Ambassador to Italy and my mother was in Parliament and my brother in the Army too, I decided to devote the rest of my life to the service of my State and its self respecting people.
In 1980 I was elected to the Lok Sabha as an Congress (I) MP from Patiala. As the security situation in Punjab started deteriorating, I was tasked by the then Prime Minister Late Mrs Indira Gandhi to negotiate with Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Sant Harchand Singh Longowal and other people who were outside the political mainstream.
Despite spending hundreds of hours with those people who had a different worldview, things did not fructify primarily because the then government was inflexible. Another Parliamentary colleague Shri Tarlochan Singh Ryasti who was pursuing concurrent negotiations with the same set of people, was tragically assassinated in April 1984.
Ultimately it all culminated in the travesty called Operation Blue Star when our holiest shrine was desecrated. It led me to resign from the Lok Sabha as well as the Indian National Congress.
In the wake of the Punjab Accord in August 1985 when the Sub Divisions of Abohar and Fazilka were being handed over to Haryana, on the directions of my Chief Minister Mr Barnala, it was I who singlehandedly camped in the village of Kandukhera for days on and ensured that this arbitrary partition of Punjab did not take place.
Similarly when Operation ‘Black Thunder’ took place in 1988 and our holy Golden Temple was once again assaulted just like It had been desecrated in 1984, I as a matter of principle resigned from the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministership from the then Surjit Singh Barnala Government.
I rejoined the Congress in late 1997 on the invitation of the then President of the Indian National Congress Late Sitaram Kesri. On being appointed the President of PPCC in 1999 by you, I ensured that the Congress won nine Lok Sabha Seats in the 1999 Lok Sabha elections and subsequently led the party to victory in the 2002 Vidhan Sabha elections winning 62 seats.
It may be pertinent to point that five years earlier the Congress in Punjab had crashed to its worst ever defeat in 1997 Vidhan Sabha Elections winning only 17 out of the 117 seats.
In 2005 when the Supreme Court ruled against the State of Punjab on the Waters issue, it was I who singlehandedly shepherded a bill through the Punjab Vidhan Sabha terminating all the underlying River Waters agreements thereby removing the substratum of that very judgement.
It may be recalled that for protecting the interests of Punjab I incurred the wrath of the then UPA government. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh came close to dismissing my government and you did not give me an appointment for 9 months after that. However for me the interests of my State were far more important than the Chief Ministership of Punjab. Despite the fact that I have no political interest outside Punjab, on your personal request I contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar and defeated the then Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley.
In 2017 I led the party to a resounding victory winning 77 out of 117 seats in the Vidhan Sabha the highest ever since the State, in its present form, as created in 1966.
Ever since I took over in 2017, I led the party to win 8 of the 13 Lok Sabha seats, against a nationwide sweeping BJP wave. We won all the corporations and municipal elections besides, two–thirds of the panchayat elections. We also won four of the five bye-elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.
For 4 years and six months I ran a good, clean and transparent administration. The achievements are far numerous to even enumerate. Punjab’s handling of the COVID -19 Pandemic was among the best in the country. All this was achieved despite a severe resource crunch and continuous cross border ingress of weapons and narcotics from Pakistan.
Nevertheless I can mention here that we set a record of completing 92% of our Manifesto, the highest by any Government ever. The earlier one was 87% by Chander Babu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh. In addition, Punjab has been judged the best State in India, for first time ever, in the Primary Education, Agriculture and Health sectors, particularly dealing with the Covid-19 Pandemic.
It was I who first raised the issue of the three black farm Laws. It was I who called all Farm Unions for a meeting, then an All Party Meeting, and convened a special Legislative Assembly Session to rescind these enactments.
Unfortunately, the Governor of Punjab chose to sit on them and did not refer them to the President of India for his approval. It is again I who supported and facilitated the Farmers’ Protests while simultaneously urging the Government of India to lend a sympathetic ear to their just and genuine demands.
Even on the sensitive issue of sacrilege my government acted against the accused. Similarly on containing and combating the menace of narcotics our performance was more than satisfactory. At one time we had 61,744 peddlers in Jail and on the day I left the Government, this figure came down to 47,510. In addition, we managed to get 4 of the big fish in the Narcotic business extradited from Armenia and one from Spain. I am sure that others will be extradited soon.
Given that Punjab was a power deficit state, the issue of Power Purchase Agreements was complex if not convoluted. As far as the issue of illegal sand mining was concerned the offenders unfortunately were the substantive bulk of Congress MLAs and Ministers, including an overwhelming number in the current government. One of my enduring regrets would remain as to why I did not take some of them to task. The thought that it would embarrass the party held me back. However I do intend making the list of these people public as this has been provided to me by the Government of Punjab and State Intelligence from time to time.
Despite my profound reservations and over the unanimous advice of almost all the Congress MPs from Punjab, you chose to appoint an acolyte of the Pakistani deep state Navjot Sidhu who had publicly hugged the Pakistan Army Chief Gen Bajwa and Prime Minister Imran Khan, as the President of the Punjab Congress Committee. Khan and Bajwa are the people responsible for sending terrorists across the border to kill Indians. It may be noted that 82 of Punjabi soldiers have been martyred in Jammu and Kashmir since my government took over in 2017.
Sidhu’s only claim to fame was that he would abuse me and my government on a regular basis. I am old enough to be his father but that did not stop him from using the filthiest and most vile language against me both publicly and privately.
Unfortunately rather than being reined in, he was patronised by Rahul and Priyanka, while you chose to turn a blind eye to the shenanigans of this gentleman who was aided and abetted by the General Secretary In-charge Harish Rawat, perhaps the most dubious individual I had the occasion to make acquaintance off.
I had told you at that time also that Sidhu is a person of unstable mind and you will one day regret this decision and it would be too late by then. I am sure you must be regretting it now.
When you chose to appoint a person who had been with the BJP for 14 years as PPCC President, I thought to myself where has the Congress come to. However his appointment was only a continuum given that Nana Patole from the BJP and Revnath Reddy from the RSS had earlier been appointed as Presidents of Maharashtra and Telangana respectively.
A party that today hurls accusations at me for taking up the farmers cause with the NDA/BJP Government at the Centre did not think twice before getting into bed with the Shiv Sena when it suited it.
Who is Communal and who is therefore Secular, it is for the people to judge. They are no fools.
However the most egregious act was the midnight conspiracy carried out against me at your and your children’s behest by calling a CLP meeting over my head in the dead of the night and that too through Twitter. It was my prerogative as the CLP leader to have called the meeting if the AICC desired it. It was only early next morning that a colleague informed me that such an outrageous act has been committed.
I immediately realized that the intention was to belittle and humiliate this self respecting old solider. You called me at 10.15 AM next morning and asked me to resign I did so without batting even an eyelid. However the crude manner in which the whole operation was executed by the undertakers of the AICC left a very foul taste in the mouth.
You probably thought that if this third world emergency imposition kind of circus that happened in June 1975 was not enacted, I would have whisked the MLAs to some resort.
Randeep Surjewala said that 76 out of 77 Congress MLAs had opposed me and you believed 43 MLAs were against me. I don’t blame you as these were concocted numbers presented to you by the people who were part of the conspiracy.
Despite knowing me for the better part of my 52 years in Public life and that too at a deeply personal level you never understood me or my character. You thought I was getting on in years and should be put to pasture. I am neither tired nor retired. I feel I have a lot to give and contribute to my beloved Punjab. I intend to soldier on and
not fade away.
I actually felt deeply hurt by your conduct and that of your children who I still deeply love as much as my own children, having known their father, since we were in school together since 1954, which is for 67 years now.
Having been put through this exercise, during past few months, I do hope that no other senior Congressperson is subjected to the ignominy that I was put through.
Last but not the least, as the peace and security of my state and my country has always remained paramount in the priority of my things, I am quite concerned about the inexperienced hands you have handed over my state to. It is beyond my comprehension as how these inexperienced hands will handle the security situation in view of the massive influx of weapons and explosives and narcotics.
We are gravely threatened by narco-terrorism which our hostile neighbour is sponsoring against us. Since this letter will be in the public domain, I don’t want to share some disturbing photographs of the weapons our security agencies had recovered. At the same time I don’t want to sound an alarmist.
But given my experience, 10 years as a soldier and nine and a half years as Home Minister of Punjab, I can well make out what purpose the weapons and narcotics are being pushed into Punjab.
I hereby tender my resignation from the Indian National Congress in the interest of my state and my country.
Smt Sonia Gandhi
Acting President, Indian National Congress,
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