Soni or Jakhar to lead faction-ridden Punjab Congress

  • Manpreet Randhawa, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Sep 04, 2015 11:40 IST
Congress general secretary Ambika Soni and state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar. (HT Photo)

Amidst the ongoing conflicts in the Punjab Congress, party sources said Rajya Sabha member Ambika Soni is being pitched to take over party reigns in the city.

The party high command is of the opinion that she'd be acceptable to all factions and critical for unity during the assembly elections. Amarinder, however, has been pushing for state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, his loyalist.

Amid speculation that a divided Punjab Congress is going to be recast, its president Partap Singh Bajwa has accepted that factionalism seem to be worrying the party high command and the purpose of its meeting various leaders is to fix it before the 2017 assembly elections.

Congress general secretary Shakeel Ahmed, also in charge of Punjab affairs in the party, has said meanwhile that the high command had been taking feedback from various leaders to decide whether or not to reconstitute the state unit. "It is most likely to make a final decision by Friday," he added.

Bajwa has told HT that during his separate meetings with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday in New Delhi, he could gauge their concerns about the party's poll prospects. Asked if he was asked to step down in the larger interest of the party, Bajwa said: "I have been asked to continue doing my job. I will anyway abide by whatever decision the high command takes for the betterment of the party."

Pratap Singh Bajwa. (HT Photo)

Bajwa has been at loggerheads with Congress deputy leader of in the Lok Sabha, Captain Amarinder Singh, since replacing him as state party president in March 2013. Amarinder has been openly critical of his Bajwa and never shied of saying that the party could never come to power under his leadership. Bajwa said that in his previous meetings with Sonia Gandhi and Rahul, he had conveyed to both that he would have no objection in case they decided to appoint Amarinder as campaign committee chairman or even declare him as the chief ministerial candidate for 2017.

"My support in the Majha region and Amarinder's base in Malwa can really help the Congress bounce back in Punjab in a big way," said Bajwa. He declined to say if he had suggested any names to Sonia and Rahul for the office of party president in Punjab. He said he had briefed both about the "work I have done to revive the party and take the Akali-BJP regime head on in the state".

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