The Congress leadership’s efforts to resolve the bitter leadership tussle between Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa and the state’s former chief minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, entered a new phase on Thursday. Party Vice President Rahul Gandhi met several Congress MLAs from the state, even as the leadership signalled that a decision on the change of guard will come within the next ten days.
Sources said Rahul met 12 Congress legislators, including Congress Legislature Party Leader Sunil Jakhar and senior leader Lal Singh, both staunch Captain loyalists. He is scheduled to meet rest of the legislators on October 12 after which, sources added, a final call on leadership change will be taken.
The Congress high-command’s move to elicit the views of different MLAs could be bad news for Bajwa, the state Congress chief, as majority of them are known Amarinder supporters.
Captain Amarinder Singh has been demanding the removal of Bajwa for long. On Monday, Bajwa had even met Rahul amid the raging leadership tussle.
Although Rahul is said to be reluctant about giving the mantle of Punjab to Captain, under whose leadership the party lost both in 2007 and in 2012, sources added that the vice president.
Amarinder Singh, who is scheduled to return from London only next week, had even resisted the high-command’s move to appoint Congress general secretary Ambika Soni as the PCC chief, further worsening the crisis in the party.
With less than a year-and-a-half left for the Assembly elections, Jhakar had recently asked party leadership to take a decision of Punjab at the earliest.
Earlier, Bajwa had alleged that Captain was planning to split the party and launch a separate outfit.
Although the former chief minister had rejected Bajwa’s claims, the Congress leadership too remains wary of the Amarinder’s plans and is believed to be treading cautiously.