Capt trusted leader, won’t harm party:
Stung by a vicious war of words between its top Punjab leaders, the Congress today played a mediator by asking incumbent state chief Partap Singh Bajwa to hold his fire against former state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.
Congress general secretary in charge of Punjab affairs Shakeel Ahmed spoke to Bajwa today and asked him to exercise restraint in the matter of state politics saying concerns, if any, could be raised before the party leadership.
Ahmed said, “We have asked our top state leaders not to speak against each other through the media and discuss their grudges only on party forums. We are sure the leaders will cooperate. Yes I have spoken to our state chief Partap Bajwa.”
Asked what the party thought of Bajwa’s apprehensions about Capt Amarinder Singh’s possible desertion of Congress ranks, Ahmed said, “Capt Amarinder Singh is not just our senior leader in Punjab. He is among our senior most national leaders. He is the Deputy Leader of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the Lok Sabha. We are sure he will not desert the party or do anything to harm its interests.”
On a query about when the expected reorganisation of the Punjab Congress will take place, Shakeel said, “Discussion on the matter is on and a decision is awaited. Congress president Sonia Gandhi will take the decision.”
The Congress had earlier thought of holding the announcement of the new Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief replacing Bajwa until Capt Amarinder Singh’s return from the London visit. However, a section in the party favours an early announcement.
With factionalism in the Punjab Congress blowing over after Bajwa accused Capt of planning to form his own party and Capt slamming Bajwa back as “schizophrenic”, the Congress feels the leadership would have to display firmness of decision about how it wants things to play out in Punjab, a state which the Congress needs to win if it has to boost the morale of its undermined workers.
“The Congress sees Punjab as a state it can win. After many electoral losses, a win in Punjab will be critical to boost party spirits. That is the reason the leadership does not want to take any chances in the state. It is therefore taking its time before announcing a decision on the reorganisation, which will be the last decision before we face elections in 2017,” sources said, adding that former Union Minister Ambika Soni remains a frontrunner in the race to replace Bajwa.
Cong takes note of MLA signature campaign
The Congress leadership on Wednesday took note of a campaign that party legislator Raj Kumar Verka reportedly launched in Chandigarh to collect signatures of legislators from Punjab on a statement saying all Punjab Congress MLAs owed allegiance to the party.
The campaign, it is learnt, had been signed by over 30 Punjab Congress MLAs by Wednesday evening.
Congress sources privately said incumbent state party chief Partap Singh Bajwa’s outburst against Capt Amarinder Singh had placed MLAs loyal to Capt on the defensive on the issue of the petition and in a way forged party unity.