The Congress has selected Himachal Pradesh legislator Asha Kumari as the party in-charge for the state that is scheduled to go for Assembly elections in 2017, reported NDTV. The decision has sparked a controversy because Kumari is out on bail after being convicted in a land grab case in February.
“I was quietly sobbing in the courtroom [in February] while my phone kept ringing. Relatives and friends were calling me about a news flash that had mentioned three years in jail. I thought I was finished,” she told The Indian Express. She said the move comes as a surprise to her even though the party leadership had told her two days before the announcement that "something big was coming her way".
“In fact, I had told them about my case and that the conviction could be an embarrassment, They had asked for all my case papers and the high court’s order of March 19 suspending the trial court order for legal scrutiny. Today, I have been cleared and told about being in charge of Punjab,” the former Himachal education minister said. A Chamba court has awarded one-year jail term to the MLA in connection with the illegal transfer of 60 acres of government forest land in her husband's name around 18 years ago.
The Aam Aadmi Party criticised the Congress's choice. “By appointing Asha Kumari as Punjab incharge, Congress party has proved they are not serious about getting rid of corruption in the state. After tainted Kamal Nath, her appointment shows Congress is short of clean leaders,"party MLA from the state, Jarnail Singh, said.
On June 15, senior Congress leader Kamal Nath resigned as general secretary in-charge of Punjab and Haryana after an outcry over his appointment. The 69-year-old stepped down just three days after his appointment was announced by the party.