In an attempt to rejuvenate the party and activate its rank and file ahead of the Lok Sabha polls in Majha belt, the Congress high command has given the task of heading the border districts to comparatively younger faces.
Lalli Majithia, general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), said, "By giving the district units a new look, the high command is depending on younger faces to give the party campaign a push in the Lok Sabha polls. The aim is to make the party a more vibrant organisation and put an end to factionalism."
Gurdaspur DCC chief retained
Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa has been retained as the Gurdaspur District Congress Committee (DCC) president.
The DCC presidents of Amritsar (urban), Amritsar (rural) and Tarn Taran have all been removed. Pathankot, which is a new district, has got its first DCC with Randhawa giving up additional charge.
Randhawa, once an Amarinder loyalist, is now close to PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa. He has been the most active DCC president in Majha belt and has led from the front. He has not hesitated taking on the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in his district.
New DCC chiefs
The former member of Amritsar Municipal Corporation, Gurjit Singh Aujla (45), has been made the Amritsar (rural) DCC chief. His selection has surprised many in the party. He has replaced former MLA Harpartap Singh Ajnala.
Ajnala's performance perhaps did not impress the party command. Aujla, on the other hand, is supposedly an aggressive leader.
Aujla had applied for the party ticket from the Amritsar South assembly segment in the last elections but was not given one. Once he was close to PPCC vice-president OP Soni, but he had started maintaining a neutral stand of late which went in his favour. He is also close to the PPCC chief.
Even as he has been active in the Amritsar (urban) unit over the years, he can overcome this handicap as he is a Jat Sikh with his roots in the rural belt.
The choice of Rajiv Bhagat (41) for the Amritsar (urban) DCC unit has come as a surprise for most of the party men. Some are inquiring as to who Bhagat is.
A Scheduled Caste, Bhagat is a practicing lawyer. The Congress is apparently aiming for SC/BC votes in Amritsar city and nearby villages by choosing him. He has replaced former MLA Jugal Kishore Sharma.
The real test for Bhagat will be to unite the urban unit and put an end to factionalism. He will face the Soni faction and the one headed by Sharma and Prof Darbari Lal, former deputy speaker. He will also have to contend with Amritsar West MLA and vice-chairman of National Commission for SC/ST Raj Kumar Verka.
He has never fought any election and his only political appointment was as the member of Amritsar Improvement Trust during the last Congress rule in the state.
In Tarn Taran, the party has replaced Dharamveer Agnihotri with youth leader Sukhpal Singh Bhullar (37), son of former minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar. This will be Sukhpal's first brush with the senior wing of the party as he had only been active in the state youth wing as its vice president.
Close to Bajwa, Sukhpal will rely heavily on his father for guidance. Over the last three decades or more, the Congress has not been able to erode the Akali vote bank in this rural district and the upcoming Lok Sabha polls will be a test for the young leader.
The newly formed Pathankot DCC will have its first president in Anil Vij, who is in his early fifties. Vij is a staunch Bajwa loyalist and has been the president of Pathankot MC.
Aujla promises to bring unity
Talking to the media on Saturday, Aujla said his sole aim was to consolidate the party base and work for its revival in Amritsar. As DCC chief, his aim will not be to seek any ticket for fighting an election and instead dedicate himself to party work, he claimed.
IN A NUTSHELL
Gurjit Singh Aujla (45), former member of Amritsar Municipal Corporation, has been made the Amritsar (rural) DCC chief. He has replaced former MLA Harpartap Singh Ajnala
Rajiv Bhagat (41), a lawyer by profession, has been made the Amritsar (urban) DCC unit chief. He has replaced former MLA Jugal Kishore Sharma
Party's youth leader Sukhpal Singh Bhullar (37), son of former minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar, has replaced Dharamveer Agnihotri in Tarn Taran
Anil Vij, a staunch Bajwa loyalist, will head the newly formed Pathankot DCC