Claims of a ‘united’ Congress were thoroughly shattered, and the chinks within exposed publicly when leaders and workers altercated with each other and even resorted to blows at separate events of Mera Booth, Mera Gaurav (MBMG) programme in Shahpura and public protest against fuel hike at the New Gate in Jaipur.
The fracas at Shahpura saw the AICC national spokesperson Sandeep Singh Choudhary at the receiving end of supporters of Alok Beniwal, former contestant from the constituency. While, the one at New Gate had the former mayor Jyoti Khandelwal confronting her colleague and Pradesh secretary Amin Kagzi.
The two confrontations took place in full view of the public. The Congress is attempting to mobilise its workers through the MBMG programme. The mass contact programme is being organized in the assembly constituencies across the state and AICC general secretary and Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pandey was at Shahpura to oversee the execution of the same.
In the middle of the programme, supporters of Choudhary and Alok Beniwal allegedly clashed with each other in their hurried bid to climb on the stage first. In the heat of the moment, supporters of Beniwal reportedly pushed and manhandled Choudhary and even tore off his clothes. The situation was brought under the control when the senior leaders including Pandey intervened. The incident exposed how severe factionalism running deep in the party that is attempting to dethrone the BJP from power.
National spokesperson Choudhary later took to Facebook to express his strong resentment over the incident. He wrote, “In a planned manner the unsocial elements beat me up and blocked Congress president Rajkumar Jat. This is not what Congress believes in. I will continuously share sorrows-happiness of Shahpura people and it shall continue to be area of political and social work.” Choudhary and Beniwal are both claiming ticket from this constituency.
A similar confrontation happened during the Congress protest against inflated fuel prices at New Gate of Kishanpole assembly constituency. According to sources, supporters of Amin Kagzi set fire to the effigy of the prime minister before Jaipur’s ex-mayor Jyoti Khandelwal arrived on the scene. This infuriated Khandelwal who had a verbal spat with Kagzi on the spot. Not the one to mince words, she has gone on to accuse Amin and his supporters of intentionally trying to keep her out of the protest. Khandelwal is looking for a ticket from Kishanpole constituency in Jaipur which Amin had contested unsuccessfully in 2013.
“As per the schedule the protest was to be staged at 11am. I reached there at 11.05. But, they wrapped up the protest in haste. Hence, I argued with Kagzi as to why he and his supporters did not wait for me. This is not about who wants to contest from Kishanpole. But, as party leaders we must ensure there is maximum participation of workers,” said Khandelwal.
Speaking to DNA, Rajasthan in-charge Avinash Pandey said he wasn’t a witness to the incident at Shahpura. He, however, claimed that, “both Choudhary and Beniwal have reconciled their differences and have decided to work together in the interest of the party.”