Congress president Sonia Gandhi has set up a three-member committee to ascertain the reasons for the party's stunning defeat in Punjab assembly elections, it is learnt.
The Congress president has appointed Union defence minister AK Antony as chairman of this high-powered committee, with union minister for power Sushil Kumar Shinde and Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit as members.
The committee has been directed to submit the report in a time-bound manner, Congress sources said.
The decision to set up this panel has come in the wake of escalation of a blame-game among warring factions in the Punjab Congress in which rival factions resorting to mud-slinging instead of indulging in introspection.
In fact, Congress central leadership miserably failed to contain dissidence as warnings by Punjab incharge Gulchain Singh Charak to warring leaders to desist from airing their views in public fell on deaf ears as bitter war of words continued.
Ever since the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine created history by defeating the Congress consecutively for the second time, the leaders owing allegiance to Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh and various splinter groups of his rival camp have been at each others' throats, blaming Amarinder for the poll-debacle and demanding his ouster.
It is in this backdrop that the high-command has finally jumped in to quell the dissidence and dissect the factors behind this humiliating poll-debacle.
It is learnt that the panel is reportedly going to summon all the members of the screening committee (which finalised the names of the 117 candidates fielded for January 30 elections).
Union minister CP Joshi was the chairman of the screening committee, while members were Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress in-charge Gulchain Singh Charak, then Congress Legislature Party leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and JP Aggarwal, MP.
Among others to be summoned by the panel, it is learnt, are union ministers such as Ashwani Kumar and Preneet Kaur, apart from Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari.
Congress sources said the three leaders panel may also meet individually all the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs from Punjab, who were directly or indirectly consulted during the ticket distribution exercise to pin point what went wrong, where and how.
It is learnt that Captain Amarinder will meet the panel on Friday.
"The focus of the panel will be brought to the ticket distribution system, which is at the core of the Congress's defeat," said a party leader.
In fact Punjab Congress chief has attributed defeat to delay in ticket distribution due to which the party came to the election arena very late and the vote share of the BSP going up phenomenally in the Doaba region.
On the other hand anti- Amarinder camp has been stating that there is a dire need to bring in a new face to lead the party in the state and has been blaming him for complacency due to anti-incumbency factor and complete disconnect with common man.