The Congress, for once, presented a united face as party leaders, including MPs and MLAs cutting across rival groups, rallied together to accord a warm and impressive welcome to their newly appointed Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa on his maiden visit to the state since his appointment.
Bajwa, who will be taking over the reins of the party from former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh on March 18, travelled on foot and also atop a vehicle from the railway station to the Golden Temple, where he offered prayers for the well-being of Punjab and its people and sought strength from the Almighty to help him achieve his goal of "Sarbat da Bhala" (well-being of all).
Party workers, along with their leaders, were lined up along the 2-km route to the shrine to offer garlands to the new PPCC chief.
Barring Ramajit Singh Sikki, MLA from Khadoor Sahib, all the other MLAs of the Majha belt were there to welcome Bajwa and escort him to the shrine.
They included Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and OP Soni, all of whom are considered close to Amarinder. Leaders from the Doaba and Malwa belts were also present, including MPs Ravnit Bittu, Mohinder Kaypee, Vijay Inder Singla and Sukhdev Singh Libra and MLAs Mohammad Sadique, Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, Kaka Randeep Singh, Kuljit Nagra, Jagmohan Kang and Amarinder Singh Raja Warring.
Former MLA Jasbir Singh Dimpa spoke the mind of the party leaders as Bajwa was making his way to the Golden Temple. Dimpa declared, "We are all behind our new PPCC president."
Acknowledging the support of party leaders and workers, Bajwa, a Gurdaspur MP, later said, "I will take everyone together, even my elder brothers in the party, as we are all a family."
Sensing that everyone wanted to climb on to the Bajwa bandwagon, the younger brother of the president-designate, Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa, extended his hand to the likes of Harminder Singh Gill from Patti, a die-hard Amarinder supporter, at the Jallianwala Bagh complex a couple of minutes before Bajwa arrived there to pay homage to martyrs of the freedom struggle.
Fateh Jung, who coordinated the visit, had himself switched over to the Amarinder camp after his elder brother's wife, Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, got the ticket from the Qadian constituency in the assembly polls last year.
Though only leaders of the Majha belt had been asked to reach Amritsar, those who were unhappy with Amarinder did not want to let go the opportunity to be seen with Bajwa. They included Sukhpal Khaira, Hans Raj Josan, Mohinder Rinwa, Sunil Dutti, Gurbinder Atwal, Avtar Henry, Inderjit Singh Zira and Amarjit Singh Samra.
On the absence of senior leaders like Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Sunil Jakhar, Fateh Jung said, "They will all be there at Chandigarh on March 18."