The bitter infighting in the Punjab Congress reached the doors of party vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday when a section of legislators demanded immediate replacement of Partap Singh Bajwa with Captain Amarinder Singh as the state chief.
These legislators told Gandhi during a meeting that the Congress’ revival in Punjab largely hinges on handing over the reins of the party to Amarinder as the current dispensation was not in a position to win 2017 assembly polls.
The past few weeks have seen an exchange of bitter war of words between Amarinder and Bajwa over the state of affairs in the Congress in Punjab.
While Amarinder claimed that the Congress graph was on the downslide under his leadership, Bajwa hit back blaming him for the party’s two successive defeats in 2007 and 2012 assembly elections.
Sources said Rahul listened patiently to legislators, who demanded Bajwa’s ouster in presence of his wife and Qadian MLA Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, and asked them to talk about issues rather than individuals.
The intense factionalism is taking a heavy toll on the Congress at a time when it has got the ammunition in the form of drugs issue to attack the ruling Akali Dal.
The issue has even brought the two-decades old allies — Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) — face to face with political analysts predicting that they could part ways before the 2017 assembly elections.
Gandhi asked the legislators to win back the “trust and support” of caste Hindus and Dalits who over the years have moved away from the Congress and shifted to the Akali Dal-BJP combine.