The two recent rallies by Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha, Captain Amarinder Singh, in Doaba has consolidated the belief that when it comes to the internal party politics, the Maharaja of Erstwhile Princely State of Patiala rules the region, reducing the stature of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Bajwa to a mere nonentity.
The rallies in Jalandhar Cantonment on July 1 and in Adampur segment on July 16, marking the first phase of Amarinder's state-wide tour, have pushed the PPCC chief in the corner with all the Congress leaders from Doaba openly supporting the former chief minister.
Three prominent faces, who did not attend Amarinder's rally, included PPCC spokesman Sukhpal Singh Khaira, who contested from Bholath; Raj Kumar from Chabbewal; and Joginder Mann, who fought on Congress ticket from Phagwara. Sources said that despite their absence, they have not extended support to Bajwa. The rallies also exposed that in the dalit-dominated Doaba, Bajwa is now left with only those leaders who do not enjoy a strong base in the public.
The Jalandhar Cantonment rally was attended by all faces of the party who contested 2012 polls from Jalandhar, Nawanshahar and Kapurthala districts. Though the rally was again in Jalandhar district, Amarinder camp ensured that all the leaders from Hoshiarpur attended the same.
The biggest surprise in Adampur was the attendance of former union minister Santosh Chaudhary, who attended the rally with her husband and former MLA from Sham Chaurasi, Ram Lubhaya, besides all sitting MLAs from the district.
Lok Sabha member from Hoshiapur in the previous Parliament, Chaudhary was not active in the party and preferred Captain's loyalist Mohinder Singh Kay Pee for the seat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. This was why her presence in Adampur rally and a long on-stage discussion with Amarinder remained the centre of attraction during the Adampur rally.
"Not only Doaba, but it's a common opinion of every grassroot worker that only Captain can bring them out of the misgovernance of SAD-BJP in Punjab. I have told this to Captain as well. People believe that only Captain can be the face for the CM from Congress," said Chaudhary, while talking to HT.
Bajwa group's strategy to issue show-cause notices to Jalandhar Cantonment leader Jagbir Brar and Satnam Kainth from Adampur also backfired as the Amarinder group had selected their segments for organizing the rallies in first leg.
Notably, before organising these rallies, both Brar and Kainth used to recognise Bajwa's power as PPCC chief, but after notices to them, both have started criticising Bajwa openly and have extended wholehearted support to Captain.