iconimg Saturday, August 01, 2015

Vishal Rambani
Chandigarh, August 24, 2013
 Former state Congress president and chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Saturday fired a salvo at state party chief Partap Singh Bajwa, saying the latter’s move of announcing parliamentary poll candidates at this juncture would seriously compromise the party prospects at the hustings.

Amarinder, who had earlier admitted that Bajwa was not his choice for the state Congress chief, questioned the latter’s functioning, saying it seemed Bajwa didn’t know the exact role assigned to him. Here are the excerpts from a telephonic interview with Amarinder Singh.
 
So you are back in action, and that too by firing a salvo at Bajwa.

Don’t say this. I am always available for the Congress as well as for Punjab. I have not fired any salvo at Bajwa but just cautioned him that he can’t go on declaring candidates for the parliamentary polls as it is the prerogative of the Congress president.
 
You mean Bajwa is exceeding his brief?

I feel Bajwa does not know about the role of the state party president. He is new to the job and maybe is ignorant of the role and duties assigned to a state party chief. He will learn it by and by. His role is to galvanise support for the party, not to declare the candidates. I am cautioning him and hope he will not repeat the mistake. The state party president has no authority to declare a candidate; all he can do is just send a panel of candidates to the high command. I think, the high command is keeping an eye on this and will soon have a word with him.
 
How will it go against the party?

There are three to four aspirants to every seat. Declaring candidates at this juncture would adversely affect the party prospects as it would demoralise the other aspirants, who would work against the chosen one. Bajwa should take everyone along. The Congress has a set formula to declare candidates that is widely accepted by all. He should instead stress on the failures of the SAD-BJP at his mass contact programme.
 
Bajwa announced the Sangrur candidate soon after your recent visit to Sangrur.

I have been visiting Sangrur on August 20 for the past 12 years to observe the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi and the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.
 
Chaudhary Jagjit Singh has favoured Bajwa as the next chief ministerial candidate.

(Laughs) Jagjitji is a dear friend of mine than of Bajwa’s.  
 
You are not attending the mass contact programme by Bajwa?

I don’t report to Bajwa. I am a Congress Working Committee (CWC) member who reports to the Congress president. It’s duty of the state party president to reach out to the masses. As a CWC member, I have separate duties and intend to increase the party base in the state and other parts of the country. I will soon hold rallies to increase the party base in Punjab.
 
You make only select appearances, which sends out a wrong signal to the party rank and file.

I have to take my supporters along. Some of my supporters are not part of the state Congress body, thus I have to visit them. In my 47-year-long political career, our family has nurtured several constituencies and I have to look after them to take care of Congressmen and my supporters in these areas. As a CWC member, I can visit any area and hold a rally. My aim is to do the best for the party and to wipe out the SAD-BJP combine from the state.
 
How is Bajwa faring in his new role? Does he consult you?

Neither he consults me, nor do I consult him. He will learn with the passage of time. Only party workers can say how he is faring.