Setting aside personal differences, a united Congress is all geared up to welcome former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to the holy city on Friday, from where he will launch his election campaign.
Amarinder, the Congress candidate from the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, was picked by the party command to take on the high-profile BJP candidate, Arun Jaitley. Since the announcement of his candidature, Amarinder had remained confined to Chandigarh, chalking out his strategy for the Lok Sabha polls with his close supporters.
His candidature seems to have united the party rank-and-file with even bitter foes like Amritsar Central MLA OP Soni and Raja Sansi MLA Sukhbinder Singh Sukh Sarkaria joining hands. If the contest is a matter of prestige for the SAD-BJP and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, it is equally prestigious for the Congress and Amarinder.
His victory could well put him back at the helm of Congress affairs in Punjab. The election in the adjoining Gurdaspur constituency from where PPCC chief Partap Singh Bajwa is re-contesting against Bollywood star Vinod Khanna of the BJP, is not being as keenly watched as the contest in Amritsar.
The Congress leaders have assured Amarinder that they would take care of his campaign and as the party’s star campaigner he could tour other constituencies as well.
All the senior Congress leaders, including the party MLAs, are keen to prove a point and get into the good books of Amarinder and for this they will be expected to put in their best efforts during the month-long campaign.
A meeting of the rural wing of the Amritsar District Congress Committee (DCC) was held here on Thursday under the chairmanship of DCC chief Gurjit Singh Aujla. Duties for welcoming Amarinder have been allotted by Aujla, who has made it known to all that laxity will not be tolerated.
The DCC chief is keen to ensure a smooth ride for Captain Amarinder to the Golden Temple. For this, he has made it clear that leaders should not leave their assigned place of duty for welcoming Amarinder. These instructions have been handed out to avoid any unruly scenes as had happened in 2010 when the party had organised a roadshow to welcome Amarinder after his re-appointment as PPCC chief.
As per the tentative programme, the former chief minister will arrive by road at the head of a motorcade from Chandigarh via Jalandhar. His expected time of arrival is around noon.
He will be received near New Amritsar and from there he would move in an open vehicle to the Golden Temple. All along the route, senior Congress leaders along with their supporters would welcome the party candidate.
Amarinder along with some selected leaders will pay obeisance at the Golden Temple. Thereafter he will pay homage to the martyrs at Jallianwala Bagh before going to the Durgiana Mandir.
“There will be no rally on Friday. Captain sahib will chair a meeting of senior leaders of the party later in the evening,” stated Aujla.