A virtual war is also brewing over the popularity ratings between Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and his predecessor Capt Amarinder Singh.
While the turf war between them continues on ground, as former Punjab chief minister and deputy leader of Congress in Lok Sabha Capt Amarinder Singh is trying to flex his muscle by showing support of party MLAs, sitting and former, who are seeking removal of Bajwa, the latter is banking on “virtual support”.
Bajwa’s team is daily updating the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee page on social networking site, Facebook, to show how he is working on the ground to “rejuvinate” (sic) the party and the “support” he is getting from the Congress rank and file.
The Facebook page started last year so far has mustered 61,000 likes and a video posted on drug menace in Punjab clocked over 7.3 lakh views. However, the highest likes any Bajwa post has got so far is 930 for his recent Jalandhar visit.
But Captain’s loyalists cite the rising “unpopularity” of Bajwa and popularity of the BJP in Punjab for the “urgency” to oust Bajwa. On Friday, 16 MLAs went to meet party president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi but could not as she was hospitalised. Amarinder later hosted them for lunch.
The strategy, a confidant said, is to meet Sonia in groups and reiterate the demand for a change of guard in Punjab.
But Bajwa claims to be unfazed by Amarinder camp’s lobbying. “I am the party president for Punjab and am working on the ground. My Facebook page says it all,” he said.
His loyalists say it is precisely Bajwa’s on-ground work and “popularity” that is giving the Amarinder camp the jitters. But the Captain’s social media managers say Bajwa stands nowhere near Amarinder even in the cyber war.
Amarinder’s official Facebook page has over 1.85 lakh likes. Unlike Bajwa’s posts on his workers’ and public meetings, those of Amarinder’s are on recent events such as the botched-up eye surgeries in Gurdaspur and the Peshawar school attack. All his videos have clocked over 1 lakh likes. Though the highest number of likes in recent posts of Amarinder is around 2,600, one of his posts during Lok Sabha polls when he was contesting from Amritsar got over 2 lakh likes.
“His page is more interactive. His followers ask him questions and he answers them or posts his views and pictures. He does not need to show his popularity by posting daily pictures of his work,” an Amarinder aide said.