The ‘Lalkar Rally’ announced by deputy leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha and former Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh at a meeting of party legislators and other leaders on Sunday was high on symbolism for his opponents both within and outside the party. Apart from a dare to state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa, Amarinder broke his silence on SAD leader and revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, and said he would take him head on for “unleashing the synthetic drug mafia” in the state: “Majithia’s cronies were involved in the drug trade, and he was aware of all that was happening.”
He added, “I let Bajwa try his best. Hun mein Bikram nu khadkaunga (Now I will take on Bikram)”, before announcing the rally that would be parallel to BJP president Amit Shah’s rally in Captain’s LS segment on January 22, a move aimed at taking the fizz out of Bajwa’s anti-drug campaign.
Though his team claimed no Bajwa-bashing was encouraged, some leaders were there to precisely do so while some others spoke about putting up a united face owing to the BJP’s growing ambition and clout. The underlying message of the meeting was clear: Endorsing Amarinder's leadership.
MLAs from each district were asked to speak, and they tried to outdo each other in singing praises of the ex-CM. After a four-hour feast, the erstwhile Patiala royal once again proved he works when he chooses to and still commands a bigger army of loyalists.
The meticulous arithmetic behind invites to MLAs, former legislators and sitting and former district presidents, besides the wooing of some old-time detractors, appeared to have worked. Facing flak for his absence from the winter session of Parliament, Captain not only tried to regain lost ground but also show that he did it on purpose.
Those ranging from CLP leader Sunil Jakhar to Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu hailed him as the only one who could save Punjab, and the attendees passed a resolution by raising hands that he should tour the state to strengthen the party “by leading from the front”. Amarinder, in conclusion, said he would now take on the SAD-BJP as Bajwa had failed to do so.