The entry of former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh into the electoral fray in Amritsar has united the Congress rank and file, who are now displaying a renewed sense of confidence to face the coming Lok Sabha elections.
A large number of Congress leaders and workers who had gone into hibernation following the party's surprise defeat in the 2012 assembly polls, have all come out of 'hiding' and are getting ready to accord their 'maharaja sahib' a befitting welcome on his arrival here on March 28.
They were all there, both young and old, at the office of the Amritsar (rural) District Congress Committee (DCC) where a meeting of senior leaders was held on Tuesday to chalk out a programme for welcoming the party's candidate for Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, where he faces SAD-BJP's high profile nominee Arun Jaitley.
Many of the faces seen at the DCC office had not been visible at any Congress meeting in the last two years.
Senior leaders of the urban and rural units of the Amritsar DCC, including the party MLAs, were all there to swear their allegiance and support to the former chief minister. Differences, if any, were not visible, as the leaders swore that they were all united and would work in tandem with each other to send their leader to the Lok Sabha.
The renewed sense of confidence in the Congress leaders and workers was clearly visible in their actions and in their words. They chose to send out a clear cut message to the Badals that the Congress and their 'maharaja' was ready to hit back at the Akalis, who had time and again claimed that the Congress had been decimated.
"Amarinder is the tallest leader of the party in Punjab and we will all work together to send him to Parliament by ensuring the defeat of Jaitley," said Kapurthala MLA Gurjit Singh Rana, a special invitee to the meeting.
Rana along with Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) vice president OP Soni, the MLA from Amritsar Central and Sukhbinder Singh Sukh Sarkaria, MLA from Raja Sansi, held each other's arms to demonstrate that the Congress was united.
The other frontline leaders who attended the meeting included former minister Sardul Singh Bundala, ex-MLA Jasbir Singh Dimpa, senior leaders Prof Darbari Lal and Jugal Kishore Sharma among others.
In fact, it was hard to pinpoint any missing leader barring Amritsar West MLA Dr Raj Kumar Verka, who was away in Delhi and had already hailed the Captain's candidature.
Bitter rivals, Soni and Sarkaria, while admitting that differences existed in the past, said, "We have shed aside our personal differences and will work together to ensure Captain Sahib's victory by a huge margin."
On Jaitley's 'outsider' comment for Amarinder, Rana shot back, "He has been the CM of this state, so Punjab is a local place for him".
Rana said that Amarinder will be the party's star campaigner in Punjab and will not just confine himself to the Amritsar constituency.
AMARINDER TO VISIT GOLDEN TEMPLE
DCC (rural) chief Gurjit Singh Aujla said that as per the programme chalked out for March 28, Amarinder would be accorded a warm welcome on the outskirts of the city, near the Amritsar Bypass chowk. Congress workers will welcome him all along the route to the Golden Temple. They will be stationed at various points along the route.
Besides, he will also pay obeisance at the Durgiana Mandir and pay homage to the martyrs at the Jallianwala Bagh. He will hold a meeting with senior party leaders but will not address any public meeting on the day of his arrival.