Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has reportedly given no assurance to Amritsar MP and deputy leader in the Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh on an early change of guard in party’s Punjab unit.
Amarinder, a former chief minister, called on Sonia and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday and discussed with them the current political situation in the state and party’s prospects in the 2017 assembly polls.
During the 40-minute meeting, Amarinder pressed for Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa’s removal to boost party’s chances in the assembly polls, said sources. Amarinder told Gandhis that the Congress can stage a comeback in Punjab. But Bajwa needs to be removed as he has failed to lift the morale of workers, he said.
Though the high command offered Captain the campaign committee chairman’s post, the MP politely refused it saying ‘he can’t work with Bajwa’, said sources.
Amarinder, sources said, also refused to suggest any name for the PPCC chief’s post saying ‘the high command should take opinion of all 117 candidates of 2012 assembly polls and party’s district chiefs.
Amarinder is also learnt to have discussed with the party leadership ways to strengthen the state unit to throw the SAD-BJP combine out of power.
Sources said both Sonia and Rahul gave no assurance or commitment to Amarinder on replacing Bajwa.
The inconclusive meeting has further deepened the Punjab Congress leadership crisis.
The Amritsar MP has been trying hard to get his trusted lieutenants installed as Congress chief in Punjab.
Amarinder had met Sonia Gandhi on January 10 and had sought Bajwa’s removal. After the meeting, Amarinder had told mediapersons that Bajwa would not be able to secure party’s victory in the assembly elections.
Both Amarinder and Bajwa have been at loggerheads ever since the Punjab Congress suffered two consecutive defeats (2012, 2007) in the assembly polls. The Punjab Congress had fought these elections under the leadership of Amarinder, who was subsequently replaced by Bajwa.
On June 4, Bajwa had met Rahul who agreed to join his ‘padyatra’ beginning October 2. Rahul had also put his stamp on Bajwa’s programme aimed at connecting with weaker sections of the society. The programme was launched from Sri Hargobindpur on June 2 and would conclude on September 28. Senior congress leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had also met Sonia last month and apprised her of political scenario in the state.