Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday told Punjab party president Partap Singh Bajwa and state opposition leader Sunil Jakhar to work in tandem for the Lok Sabha elections coming up in 2014.
The media as well as the Congress-circle reports of differences between Bajwa and Jakhar over minor political issues have confused the party workers, so Rahul called the two leaders to New Delhi, where they sat in the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) office before general secretary Shakeel Ahmed and secretary Harish Chaudhary, who is also Barmer MP from Rajasthan.
In an hour of meeting starting at 5pm, Rahul told Bajwa and Jakhar to sort out their differences, if there were any, for the sake of the party's unity and strength in Punjab. Asked to comment, Bajwa tried to play down the issue, saying the meeting was to plan the next five months of preparation for the Lok Sabha election.
"The entire party is together and everyone works in tandem," said Bajwa, adding: "Being chief of the party in the state, it is my duty to take everyone along." Sources said the first sign of differences between Bajwa and Jakhar had come to light when the state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi on July 8 in New Delhi. Jakhar had also taken 33 legislators along, as Sonia and Manmohan wanted to brief them on the significance of the national food security ordinance.
Rahul advised both Bajwa and Jakhar to take all four vice-presidents of the state Congress in confidence before appointing rest of the office-bearers in Punjab. Bajwa is expected to take another 15 days before he finalises the office-bearers' list.