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Capt haters find no love in Delhi

Leaders asking for the head of captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday made no headway with Rahul Gandhi.

chandigarh Updated: Apr 13, 2012 11:19 IST
Pawan Sharma

Leaders asking for the head of captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday made no headway with Rahul Gandhi.

Eight prominent leaders of the state Congress, including former ministers and legislators, met the all-India Congress general secretary in Delhi and blamed the party's poor show in the Punjab assembly elections on Amarinder's 'feudal' attitude. Former ministers Raman Bhalla, Malti Thapar and Sardul Singh; and ex-MLAs Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Mangat Rai Bansal, Surinderpal Singh Sibia, Vijay Sathi and Navtej Singh Cheema made up the delegation.

In a report submitted to Rahul Gandhi, the Punjab leaders have claimed the leadership of Amarinder to be uninspiring, and stated that he failed to exploit strong anti-incumbency factor and burning issues. Captain's coterie, late and unfair selection of candidates, poor campaign, no money to candidates, and no effort to pacify rebels were blamed.

Rahul Gandhi, reportedly, did not buy the argument that Amarinder alone was responsible for the election debacle. He asked the defeated candidates as well to share the blame, stating that they could not discount their poor performance.

Capt's team on counter-offensive
To blunt the attack on captain Amarinder Singh in the wake of some leaders of the party meeting general secretary Rahul Gandhi in Delhi, the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) went on counter-offensive on Thursday.

The PPCC issued a statement that 62 of the 71 Congress candidates who lost the last assembly elections had stated that it was wrong to blame Amarinder for it. The claim of the PPCC spokesperson that 62 of the defeated candidates were with Amarinder could not be verified independently.

The statement's aim was to get a message across that most of the 117 candidates in the last race to the assembly were with the state Congress president. "In a joint statement, the 62 candidates questioned the attempts by certain vested interests within the party, some of whom have either no standing or were a spent force, for leading a malicious campaign driven by personal agenda against the PPCC president," read the PPCC statement.

The release quoting the 62 leaders said the outcome of the elections could have been worse had Amarinder not led the campaign. The candidates also questioned the locus standi of a union minister (Ashwani Kumar) and dubbed him "rootless-wonder" "who left Punjab decades ago and "may not even know the names of the assembly segments of the district he claims to belong to". They appealed the party high command to enforce discipline.