March is auspicious for Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa, for it was this month in 2013 when he was appointed to the post in a "picture-perfect" coronation.
Two years hence, Bajwa's cup of woes is overflowing and how! Facing the threat of being dethroned as the chorus for his ouster from captaincy gets louder, he had planned to stump his detractors by getting Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to bat for him. Soon after the lalkar rally of former Punjab CM and the deputy leader of Congress in the Lok Sabha, Captain Amarinder Singh, in January, Bajwa announced a "mega rally" in March to resurrect himself by mustering a bigger crowd and Rahul's presence to take on Captain. The main agenda of the rally was to take on the Narendra Modi regime's "anti-farmer" land acquisition ordinance.
But Bajwa last week announced the date of the rally as March 29, clueless it was the day of the cricket World Cup final in Australia. No sooner had he decided to change the date than the plot and the main actor, too, seem to have gone missing. Rahul has proceeded on a sabbatical to "reflect on present and future challenges", leaving the organisers unsure about going ahead with preparations for the rally.
The controversial land acquisition amendment bill, too, has been stonewalled by the opposition parties, activist Anna Hazare and farmer bodies, making it a delayed agenda for the end-of-March rally. Amarinder's activism on the issue inside the Lok Sabha on Tuesday has also added to Bajwa's worries. Amarinder spoke on the bill and stormed into the well of the House to oppose it with other members. "The NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government is cheating farmers to help out industrialist friends such as the Adanis who funded its election campaigns. We will not let the bill be passed," he, later, told HT.
Bajwa is, however, unfazed by the bad tidings. "We have decided to change the date as the young crowd will be busy catching the World Cup final. I will announce a new date after meeting the Congress vice-president after the muncipal elections are over. As for land acquisition, it will remain a burning issue for some time, as Modi is unlikely to buckle under the opposition pressure. The rally will also highlight the other farmer issues," said the Punjab Congress president.
On Rahul, Amarinder agrees with Bajwa. "Rahul will not be gone so long. The party needs him, as he is our vice-president. We all needed time when we had started out, and so does Rahul. March-end is a month from now. Land acquisition and the other farmer issues will continue to be relevant even then. And we will all be present at the rally," said Amarinder.
But the beleaguered state party chief has more pressing concerns before the March rally. Already battling open dissent from his party MLAs, the verdict of the municipal elections expected on Wednesday may seal his fate further. firstname.lastname@example.org