Coming in the backdrop of a volatile sociopolitical situation in Punjab, the meeting of Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday took place amid a changed scenario.
Amarinder, who had made a no-holds-barred attack at Rahul last month before leaving for the UK, had a “cordial” hour-long discussion with Rahul during which he discussed how the ruling Akali-BJP regime was facing intense wrath of farmers and Sikhs and the state was heading towards “anarchy”.
Sources in Congress said the former CM told Rahul that to deal with the unfolding situation, the Congress will have to give “decisive leadership” as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) too is contending for the antiincumbency vote and would hotly contest the Punjab polls. Describing the meeting as cordial, sources said Amarinder made his position clear and sought a free hand to turn the tide in favour of the Congress, saying the situation in Punjab warrants a “one-man show”.
“The Captain told Rahul that the Congress cannot win an election in Punjab if there are parallel power centres. The ticket distribution has to be purely on winnability and not to appease various factions and leaders. He also said that any further delay in restructuring the state unit would fritter away the gains of a situation that seems to be tailor-made for the Congress to make inroads into the traditional vote-banks of the Akalis -- farmers and Sikhs -- who are up in arms against the government and the anger is spilling to the streets,” an MLA in the Amarinder camp said.
Rahul is learnt to have offered various options to Amarinder, including appointing Rajya Sabha MP Ambika Soni as the campaign committee chief and a Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee acceptable to all factions. The meeting concluded on the “positive note” as Rahul told the Captain that he would convey the latter’s views to party president Sonia Gandhi and a decision to resolve the leadership crisis would be taken without delay.
Ever since two back-to-back poll drubbings, the Congress has been in the throes of a leadership crisis in Punjab and a solution has proved elusive as the party has failed to get Amarinder on board on its choice of PPCC chiefs. The Amritsar MP has made his displeasure at being appointed the campaign committee chairman known and demanded reins of the state unit.
Amarinder, who reached Chandigarh in the evening to attend a family function of Mohali MLA Balbir Sidhu, did not respond to calls.