The post-poll rumblings in the Punjab Congress escalated into a virtual factional war on Saturday as seven party MLAs and a section of senior leaders challenged the moral authority of Capt Amarinder Singh in questioning leadership of state party chief Partap Singh Bajwa, reminding the newlyelected Amritsar MP that the party had been reduced to just two seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections when he was the chief minister.
The pro-Bajwa camp’s counter-attack was led by Congress legislators Parminder Singh Pinki, Om Parkash Soni, Karan Brar, Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Sangat Singh Gilzian and Randip Singh Nabha besides former MLAs Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Surinder Pal Singh Sibia, Rajanbir Singh, Ramesh Singla, Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Joginder Singh Mann, Yoginder Dhingra and Anil Dutta.
In a statement, they said the need of the hour was to strengthen the hands of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
They reminded Amarinder that after the 2002 debacle, he had neither owned the responsibility nor offered his resignation to the party high command.
They said it was strange that the person under whose leadership the Congress had suffered two successive defeats was leading the campaign against Bajwa.
They said in the north, Punjab was the only state where the Congress managed to get three seats out of 13 and the situation would have been entirely different but for the Aam Aadmi Party.
The Congress was close second on the four seats won by AAP. They said that most of the party MLAs from whose assembly segments the Congress had lost had shifted to Amritsar to campaign for Capt Amarinder Singh.
The Cong ress had been defeated by huge margins in the very assembly segments represented by the MLAs who had been openly lobbying against Bajwa.
They recalled that it was Bajwa under whose leadership the party had launched a massive anti-drug campaign that had received an overwhelming response.
They said Amarinder himself had greatly benefited from the campaign in Amritsar where the most influential Akali leader was in the eye of the stor m for “patronizing” drug smuggling.