With the battle between Punjab Congress leaders to claim credit for the Rs 3,000-crore grant expected from Centre peaking this week,the party high commands lunch diplomacy,to bring about a truce,seems to have only brought the deep fissures to the fore.
Congress Working Committee member Jagmeet Singh Brar and Punjab party chief Partap Singh Bajwa reportedly broke into a heated debate at the unity lunch hosted by Congress general secretary and Punjab in-charge Shakeel Ahmed in Delhi on Monday.
Sources said Brar and Bajwa objected to each others presence at Maan village in Lambi constituency following alleged intimidation of Congress workers there in May this year. Bajwa pointed out that Brar chose to go to the village on his own a few days before Bajwa had planned a massive show of solidarity there. Brar retorted by saying that the situation was too grave for his having waited for Bajwa to arrive at the scene. The Congress chief then stated that Brars rushed visit had no impact as the situation had not changed much in the village even after his visit. The discussion led to a heated exchange of words between the two forcing the others to intervene. Sources add that Bajwa was almost half an hour late for the meeting and during this time the issue of the alleged letter written by Captain Amarinder Singh to the party high command about Bajwas antecedents was also discussed.
Sources further informed that Leader of Opposition Sunil Jakhar criticised Bajwas working saying that he was running the party as a one-man show and needed to trust others around him. Former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal talked about individualization of the party,probably hinting at Captain Amarinders style of functioning.
Resentment among party leaders having not been given their due position during Rahul Gandhis visit to Sangrur for laying the foundation stone of the PGI satellite centre was also aired.
Shakeel Ahmed is believed to have told Bajwa to carry everyone along and prepare the party for the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls. He asked him to keep all the senior leaders in good humour and approach others humbly. He gave instances of his working when he was the party president in Bihar.
The high commands lunch diplomacy comes at a time when the senior Congress leadership is severely divided. This time,over the issue of who gets to take credit for the Rs 3,000 crore grant that is likely to come Punjabs way to tackle water logging in the state.
Jakhar and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal met the Prime Minister and flagged the issue during his visit to Chandigarh last month. Later the two jointly met Planning Commission head Montek Singh Ahluwalia as had been suggested by the Prime Minister. Within days of Jakhars meeting with Montek,however,Bajwa along with an MP and three MLAs in tow went to meet Montek on the same subject. Bajwa had announced in the Rahul Gandhi rally in Sangrur that he will take every Congress MLA and MP to Delhi with him for this grant. But in the end he could muster only four people. Even the MLA whose area stands to benefit the most from the grant did not go with him, pointed out another Congress leader.