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The Congress ship in Punjab has sunk to a new low. But the "Captain" has sailed through the rough winds.
Resurrected in Amritsar, the erstwhile Patiala royal Capt Amarinder Singh is bound to stake a claim to get back his crown after his successor to the state presidency Partap Singh Bajwa's poll fortunes have hit the rock bottom -- the party's tally under his stewardship has hit a low of three seats and Bajwa himself has been humbled by BJP's Vinod Khanna by over one lakh votes. In his defeat, there is also a public rejection of Bajwa's poll pitch of being the future Punjab CM.
Amarinder loyalists, who had not let Bajwa find his feet in the state Congress, are going to gun for him with a renewed vengeance. After all, Bajwa was the architect of the party strategy to field all party stalwarts, from Amarinder to leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar, besides many sitting MLAs. Cornered into a contest at Amritsar against BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley by Bajwa, Amarinder had sarcastically said before launching his no-holds-barred poll campaign, "Bajwa will have the last laugh after the results are out."
The Captain's words have proved prophetic. For Bajwa has lost his stature in the party and the state politics while Amarinder has emerged as the big slayer nationally, who bucked the "Modi wave" to trump one of Modi's most trusted lieutenants from a seat perceived to be a bastion of the SAD-BJP alliance. He has done so when all other party stalwarts -- from Ambika Soni, Jakhar to wife Preneet Kaur -- have suffered poll reverses.
Though Bajwa had envisaged Amarinder moving to central politics after a victory, the "maharaja" has made his love for Punjab all too known to give up a shot at CM's chair in the 2017 state elections. The Captain may have scripted his own victory but the Capt-Bajwa war has taken its toll on the Congress. The war of succession in the Congress is once again on.