The Punjab Congress, still smarting from the assembly poll debacle, seems to be ill-prepared to take on the ruling SAD-BJP alliance in the ensuing local bodies' elections.
What has deepened the uncertainty is All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi's announcement on May 6 that former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh would continue to head the state party unit till the completion of next month's elections.
Consequently, Amarinder, who organised a rally at Talwandi Sabo during Baisakhi celebrations, stormed into a police station in Rampura Phul and held a protest demonstration at Tarn Taran, appears to have gone into a shell as he has not visited any of the poll-bound cities to galvanise the party rank and file for the elections.
According to his detractors, Amarinder has not even held a meeting with party legislators. Earlier, when a banner of revolt was raised against him by defeated Congress candidates, he simply called them up for a tea party instead of making serious efforts to redress their grievances.
Amarinder also deployed his trusted lieutenant Capt Sandeep Sandhu to make Congress legislators issue a joint statement that only party president Sonia Gandhi was authorised to decide on the change of guard in Punjab.
Senior Congress leader Lal Singh's appointment as the party incharge for the municipal corporation polls in Ludhiana has not gone down well with party workers. In 2008, the party had lost the Ludhiana MC polls under his leadership.
What's worse, the Congress has failed to corner the government over the conviction of senior Akali leaders Bibi Jagir Kaur and Tota Singh. The party did not even support its own MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra when he sat on a protest demonstration in Fategarh Sahib against the state government over the acquisition of farmers' land. The party also failed to confront the SAD-BJP government when the Malerkotla nagar council president was roughed up in Jalandhar or when four Congressmen were injured in firing in Bholath.
Meanwhile, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Kumar Jakhar admitted that the loss in the assembly polls had upset party workers, but he hastened to add that he would do everything to rejuvenate them so as to end the Akalis' 'autocratic' rule.
"The Akali leadership is encouraging criminal elements to intimidate Congress workers. I will ask deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to immediately check this intimidation or we would have no option but to launch a mass agitation across Punjab," added Jakhar.
Jakhar said he had called a meeting of the CLP on Tuesday, where legislators would be given new responsibilities to strengthen the organisation. "We cannot afford to keep crying over spilt milk for so long," added Jakhar.
"The sooner the high command takes a decision on the leadership, the better it would be for the party. Capt Amarinder Singh is still an undisputed party leader," said Congress spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira.