The induction of former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh into the Congress Working Committee (CWC) is being seen in political circles as recognition of his contribution to the party in Punjab in the past 15 years.
Though many of his party colleagues say the CWC does not have real powers. It is only a policy-making body as the real powers are vested in the state organisational bodies which have to implement the policies framed by the CWC, they say.
However, they admit that Amarinder's elevation acknowledges his contribution to the party, which would send a right message in the party circles that the Congress valued its stalwart leaders.
After being unceremoniously removed from the post of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief in March this year, Amarinder's close aides felt dejected and admitted in private that the tallest Congress leader of the state in recent times did not deserve such a treatment.
It appeared as if Amarinder was not even aware that he would have to step down. After Partap Singh Bajwa was appointed the PPCC chief in March this year, Amarinder said he could have given a better option to lead Punjab had the party consulted him.
Amarinder almost became a laughing stock in political circles when he was appointed the president of the All India Jat Maha Sabha in May. Though not many know he has been associated with the Sabha for years and cannot relate to his joining the Sabha in order to seek reservation for Jats. Others thought Amarinder accepted the elevation to keep himself alive and kicking in the political arena.
Meanwhile, Bajwa hailed Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi for the move. "Having Amarinder in the CWC will be a huge help and asset for the Punjab Congress. It will help us take a number of issues pertaining to Punjab to the CWC," said Bajwa.
Amarinder will be a permanent invitee to all meetings of the newly constituted body. In the category of permanent invitees, there are 14 others, including Ajit Jogi, ML Fotedar, Mohsina Kidwai, Murli Deora, Oscar Fernandes, P Chidambram, RK Dhawan and SM Krishna.
Former PPCC working president and Jalandhar MP Mohinder Singh Kaypee has also been inducted into the CWC as a special invitee to the CWC meetings. In Kaypee's category, there are four more members. However, the special invitees would be called in for the CWC meetings only when required.
Amarinder's elevation will also give an opportunity to the disgruntled elements in the state Congress to rally round him. On March 23, when Bajwa was formally installed as the PPCC chief, Amarinder hosted a lunch for his close associates.
The farewell luncheon gathering was well attended by Amarinder loyalists and close aides much to the discomfort of Bajwa and his camp. His elevation will also give a chance to Amarinder loyalists to hammer home the point that his proximity and access to the Congress president was intact.