Amid rumblings within Punjab Congress, former chief minister Amarinder Singh on Friday met party president Sonia Gandhi and is said to have sought the removal of Punjah Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Pratap Singh Bajwa.
According to sources, Singh met Sonia at her residence and is understood to have told her that Bajwa, his known detractor, has failed to take the party along with him leading to major dissidence against his leadership.
"I had met her to inquire about her health as she was unwell and was in hospital when I was abroad. It was a courtesy call," Singh told PTI.
He later said, "Bajwa cannot secure victory for the party".
Sources say that Singh has been openly airing his views against the leadership of Bajwa, who has been his known detractor and has been seeking a change in the leadership in Punjab in the interest of the party.
Singh is understood to have told Sonia that if the Congress has any chance left in Punjab, the party has to change Bajwa, whom he alleges has failed to take the party with him and bring in fresh blood and vigour into the party.
Sources that Singh has also met party vice president Rahul Gandhi and raised the issue of leadership change with him.
There has been intense factionalism within the Punjab unit of the Congress ever since the last Lok Sabha polls where the party could win only three seats out of a total of 13, with entrant AAP securing four seats.
The meeting has come at a time when the strains between the ruling Akali Dal and BJP are growing, with a section of the BJP in the state seeking severing of ties with SAD and going it alone in the next assembly elections.
Punjab goes to polls in January 2017. Congress has successively lost to the SAD-BJP combine in the previous two assembly polls.
Singh, who is also Congress' deputy leader in Lok Sabha, was virtually absent in the Winter session of Parliament and could be replaced.
Party sources also did not rule out the possibility of the 72-year-old leader being made Congress' chief ministerial candidate in Punjab where assembly elections are due in 2017.
A senior party leader, who declined to be identified, said the high command could designate another person as the party's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha soon.
Seeking to dismiss speculation that Amarinder was set to join BJP, the leader said it showed the stature of the former Punjab chief minister as "no one can ignore him".
He did not rule out the possibility of Amarinder, a former chief of Punjab PCC, being made the "face" of the party in the assembly polls.