THE first day in office of recently nominated PPCC president Capt Amarinder Singh was a stormy day in Congress, leaving several with red faces and unsavoury memories.
Amarinder’s staying away from the formal installation ceremony of the newly announced Congress Legislative Party (CLP) leader, Charanjit Singh Channi, his Deputy, Navtej Singh Cheema and chief whip Bharat Bhushan Ashu, did not go down well with the party’s young brigade.
Channi and his team were to take over soon after Amarinder’s meeting with the legislators and district presidents.
Amarinder chaired the meeting but despite promising to attend, he did not go to the the Assembly, where the installation ceremony was to take place.
Channi’s team and several legislators who accompanied him waited for him for a few minutes, only to be told later that he would not be coming.
A legislator and confidante of Amarinder said he was suffering from a backache and wanted to rest. He was mobbed by people at the rally and pushed around so much, the confidante said, that he got a backache.
Besides Amarinder, the outgoing CLP leader and his loyalist, Sunil Jakhar, was conspicuous by his absence from the meeting as well as the taking over of Channi. Sources close to him said he was preoccupied in Delhi and despite trying he could not make it.
While addressing the media, Amarinder, responding to Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu’s statement that PPP chief Manpreet Singh Badal should not be taken on board in Congress, asked, “Who is he to say this? To decide on the alliance is the prerogative of the PPCC and high command. Bittu is a part of campaign committee. He should not exceed his brief.”
A few minutes later after Amarinder made this statement, Channi, without joining issues with the PPCC chief, said Congress was capable of wining the 2017 election alone.
Several Congress leaders expressed their disappointment at Amarinder not joining them for lunch after the meeting. The lunch was served to everybody at PPCC.