The war of words within the Punjab Congress over the assembly election debacle turned ugly on Sunday, with Congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal calling her long-time rival state party chief Captain Amarinder a "corrupt coward" and accusing him of levelling false accusations against her.
"Capt Amarinder Singh is the master of telling lies; a corrupt man; a coward known for running away from the battlefield and sending his aides to touch the feet of (SAD leader) Sukhbir Singh Badal for not pursuing court cases against him," she said.
Amarinder - who told sections of the media on Saturday that Bhattal was in charge of 10 seats but could ensure victory in only two, including her own - also hit out at his other detractors in the party including Gurdaspur MP Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress Working Committee member Jagmeet Singh Brar and former Bholath MLA Sukhpal Singh Khaira.
Saying Amarinder's claims about her were false, Bhattal said of the 13 candidates she got a ticket for, nine won, not counting herself, while Amarinder got tickets for 34 candidates of whom just two won.
"My four candidates who lost have been attributing their defeat to the negative role Amarinder's camp played," she said, adding that Amarinder was becoming forgetful because of his age.
"I was quiet till now but his false accusations have compelled me to shut him up," she said, accusing the former chief minister of corruption, inefficiency and engineering the defeat of some Congress candidates.
"In fact, he (Amarinder) should retire honourably," Bhattal, a former chief minister herself, said. "He must be stopped from weakening the party. I want to warn him to be careful and stop planting false statements against me. If he doesn't, I will expose him further."
Bhattal said before becoming Punjab Congress chief for the first time Amarinder owned one Fiat car and didn't even have money to change its tyres. "Now he doesn't travel by road. He should explain where he got the money from. It smacks of corruption."
She said party workers were accusing him of "making money" in the garb of assembly elections. "He should tell us where and how he spent the elections funds," she said.
Bhattal claimed that in March 2007, a day after the Akali-BJP government was sworn to power in its previous term, Capt Amarinder quietly air-dashed to London, afraid that the Akalis would arrest him. "He came back only after getting blanket bail," she said.
Calling him a "paper tiger", Bhattal said, "A jackal doesn't become a lion merely by wearing the hide of the lion." Continuing in the same vein, she said during the last municipal corporation elections, he had absconded from Patiala mid-way, giving a free run to the SAD-BJP.
BHATTAL GOES BALLISTIC
"Capt Amarinder Singh began the politics of vendetta. He did not fight for the cause of party workers who were facing vendetta cases, while he managed to withdraw some of his own cases"
"Amarinder is solely responsible for the poll debacle and should have tendered resignation as state party president"
"Sukhbir Singh Badal should honour Amarinder for helping him in bringing the SAD-BJP back to power and creating history"
"Amarinder should not compel me to open my mouth further as I have enough ammunition against him"
"I am not in the race to become Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president"