All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Rahul Gandhi has initiated yet another exercise to strengthen the Punjab Congress, suggesting a shift from one-man leadership to a collective command structure.
Sources said Rahul met at least 26 state leaders - MLAs, MPs and former legislators -- in three days (December 12-14) at his residence in Delhi, where he said he wanted to make the party structure "more inclusive". Those who met Rahul included Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president Capt Amarinder Singh, former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Samsher Singh Dullo, Lal Singh, Sangat Singh Giljian, Bharat Bhushan Ashu, Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Aruna Chaudhary, Ishar Singh Meharban, Rakesh Pandey, Jassi Khangura and Malkiat Singh Dakha.
Infighting among seniors "who do not see eye to eye" was listed as a primary reason for the humiliating defeat in the assembly polls. However, even as Rahul did not outright reject the option of change in leadership, in a breather for Amarinder, he asked the senior members to consider the option of a "coordination committee".
He also urged the members to be more aggressive against the BJP, the junior alliance partner of the Akalis. The Congress must be pro-active as the opposition, and corner the SAD-BJP government over the deteriorating law and order, particularly pressing that the BJP "continues to be a mute spectator merely to enjoy power", a source quoted Rahul as saying.
This is the second major exercise by Rahul to invigorate the party in Punjab after the assembly polls - he undertook a two-day visit to the state in October and held a day's deliberations last month when most of the leaders had asked for a change of guard.