As settling the leadership issue in Punjab is becoming a tough nut to crack for the Congress high command, party national vice-president Rahul Gandhi after concluding the one-to-one meeting with the second batch of party MLAs on October 12 will meet the District Congress Committee (DCC) presidents the next day.
The first batch of party MLAs, including Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar, Kapurthala legislator Rana Gurjit Singh, Sanaur MLA Lal Singh, Amloh MLA Sadhu Singh Dharamsot and Khadoor Sahib legislator Ramanjit Singh Sikki had met Rahul on Thursday (October 8) in New Delhi.
The Congress vice-president’s office has called the DCC chiefs for the meeting where Rahul would meet the party leaders to discuss the leadership issue, whether to give command to former chief minister and Amritsar MP Captain Amarinder Singh or some other leader in Punjab.
DCC Jalandhar (rural) president Jagbir Brar and his urban counterpart Rajinder Beri said they have been specially been asked to prepare their views over the leadership issue by Rahul’s office on Tuesday afternoon.
The MLAs such as Sham Sunder Arora (Hoshiarpur), Hardyal Kamboj (Patiala rural), Navtej Cheema (Kapurthala), Balbir Singh Sidhu (Mohali), Joginder Panjgrahian (Faridkot), who are also holding the post of DCC chiefs, are in the list to meet Rahul on October 12.
“I was scheduled to meet the Congress vice-president along with the first batch on October 8 but I was stuck with an urgent work and now I have been asked to meet him on October 12,” Sultanpur Lodhi MLA Navtej Cheema said.
Fatehgarh Sahib DCC chief Lakhbir Lakha Payal, Muktsar DCC president Gurmeet Singh Khudiyan said they have been asked to meet Rahul one-to-one for 15 minutes each and have been asked to list out the “ground reality about the party’s position in Punjab”.
With news reports of Amarinder exploring the possibilities of forming a new party if not given full charge for assembly polls doing the rounds, the meeting with the DCC chiefs is being termed as the last-ditch effort of the Congress high command to take its so-called exercise to get reports from the ground-level workers before taking the crucial decision.
Capt remains first choice
Most of the DCC chiefs HT talked to acknowledged that Amarinder was the best option among others. Jalandhar Jagbir Brar and Rajinder Beri said the Congress can come to power only if Amarinder is given full charge by the party. “We will request Rahul to take this move as early as possible,” Beri said.
Sources said out of a total of 27 DCC chiefs, more than 20 are already batting for Amarinder.
The DCC chiefs who are considered close to Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Bajwa are also admitting that the ground reports are in favour of Amarinder regardless of personal loyalties.
Amarinder likely to meet Sonia soon
Amarinder is expected to return from his foreign tour on Sunday evening and is likely to meet Congress national president Sonia Gandhi in the coming days. Rahul’s exercise to hold meetings with party MLAs and DCC chiefs has also raised eyebrows of many leaders, especially those from the Amarinder camp.
“The question is that will the Congress vice-president let Amarinder lead the party in the assembly polls after this exercise? Are one- to-one meetings an exercise to gauge feedback or is he trying to assess the damage if Amarinder leaves the party?” said a senior party leader.