Deputy Leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha Captain Amarinder Singh Sunday gathered most of the MLAs, former MLAs and other leaders of the Punjab Congress and announced a ‘Lalkar rally’ in Amritsar on January 22 to counter BJP chief Amit Shah’s campaign against drugs. Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa has already announced a rally against Shah’s drive.
The announcement came after the luncheon meeting called by the Amritsar MP in his home town. Bajwa did not attend the meeting. It was attended by 34 MLAs, including CLP leader Sunil Jakhar, about 50 former MLAs and several office-bearers of the party’s state unit.
Singh resolved to take on the BJP’s “doublespeak” on drugs and accused the BJP of adopting “double standard by supporting and opposing the Akalis at the same time”. The rally will kick off from his New Moti Bagh Palace in Patiala.
The Congress leaders, on their part, resolved to strengthen the party under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi “as disciplined soldiers of the Congress”.
Bajwa too came in for attack. Speakers called him a “poor leader” who was unable to keep his flock together.
Bajwa and his wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa were not invited. Former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, with whom Singh recently buried the hatchet, was absent too. She was quoted as saying that she was preoccupied and that
Singh should not have politicised the lunch.
Meanwhile, Bajwa Sunday welcomed Singh’s announcement of the rally, asserting that the programme would be under the umbrella of the PPCC and that the modalities would be chalked out in consultation with the high command after the Muktsar rally at Maghi on January 14.
“I am happy that the entire party is getting united to confront Amit Shah. The PPCC has already announced the January 22 programme. We have to take on Shah not only on drugs but also on several other issues. It is the PPCC programme that has been endorsed by Singh and I welcome it,” he said. The party would reiterate its demand for a CBI inquiry into drug smuggling in the state, he added.
Singh, however, made it clear that the January 22 Amritsar rally was being organised by the Amritsar parliamentary constituency and there was no question of anyone else working out its modalities.
He said the rally had been planned at Sunday’s meeting in Patiala. Since the modalities had already been worked, there was no need to duplicate the efforts, he added.