A factional war seems to have ensued between former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh and PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa after seven MLAs and some senior Congress leaders owing allegiance to the latter on Saturday challenged the moral authority of Amarinder in questioning the leadership of the state party chief, reminding him that the party had been reduced to just two seats in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections when he was the chief minister.
These MLAs are 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.
They said the need of the hour was to strengthen the hands of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
In a statement issued here, these leaders reminded Amarinder that he did not offer his resignation to the party high command; neither did he own the responsibility at that time. 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 Congress 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 storm for "patronising" drug smuggling.