Kunal Shrivatsa

Is Lal Singh warming up to the Congress?

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JAMMU: Veteran political leader and former minister, who is also chairman of Dogra Swabhimaan Sangathan Party (DSSP), Chaudhary Lal Singh seems to be getting cozier with his old party Congress after he appeared in a function to pay tributes to Congress leader late Pandit Mangat Ram Sharma on his birth anniversary.

According to sources Chaudhary Lal Singh is in touch with the Congress high command and may join the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ being undertaken under the stewardship of senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

“There are indications that Chaudhary Lal Singh may join the ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ under the leadership of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Negotiations are going on between the two sides regarding the place and timing of joining the yatra,” said sources.

However, sources remain silent about whether Chaudhary Lal Singh will only participate in the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ or may even return to the Congress. “Lal Singh’s joining the Congress is yet to take a concrete shape. Certain things are yet to be decided from both sides. It would be premature to read too much into the move but he is doing the smart thing to keep all options open,” they said.

Sources further said that Lal Singh’s joining the Congress could be a real possibility since his bête noire Ghulam Nabi Azad has left the Congress following which there was a reconnect between the Congress and Chaudhary Lal Singh.

It is notable that Chaudhary Lal Singh left the Congress after he was denied party mandate from Udhampur Lok Sabha seat in 2014 parliamentary elections despite getting elected twice (2004 and 2009) from there.

“It is well known that Chaudhary Lal Singh held Ghulam Nabi Azad responsible for depriving him the opportunity to fight as a Congress candidate from Udhampur in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. Singh minced no words in criticizing Azad for that decision. Later, he quit the Congress and joined Bharatiya Janata Party while also successfully contested the Assembly polls in 2014 from Basohli,” said sources.

“But despite leaving the Congress, Chaudhary Lal Singh never targeted the Gandhi family in his speeches and never criticized them. His outbursts remain confined to Azad only,” they added.

Sources say that Chaudhary Lal Singh has a very close relationship with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. This relationship continues even today, adding that few other Congress leaders have also been in touch with Chaudhary Lal Singh.

For the first time on Thursday, Chaudhary Lal Singh appeared publicly with the state Congress leaders. It was an opportunity to pay tribute to Congress leader late Pandit Mangat Ram Sharma on his birth anniversary.

Although, in this programme, Chaudhary Lal Singh did not give any clear indication of joining the Congress again, but in his address, he praised Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Referring to the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ of the Congress, he asked the state Congress leaders to come out on the streets. He insisted that it is not only Rahul Gandhi’s responsibility to keep the Congress alive but everyone should try to give new strength to the party.

While Chaudhary Lal Singh had all praise for Rahul Gandhi, he did not miss the opportunity to strongly criticize Ghulam Nabi Azad, whom he held responsible for weakening the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.

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