A day after former Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa led a delegation of MPs from the state to AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi ahead of allotment of party tickets, Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh and Bajwa held a closed-door meeting at the former’s residence in Delhi on Thursday during which they are believed to have discussed the distribution of tickets. Earlier in the day, Amarinder had met Rahul Gandhi and was reportedly asked to resolve their differences.
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Bajwa had met Rahul along with Rajya Sabha MPs Shamsher Singh Dullo and Ambika Soni, Jalandhar MP Chaudhary Santokh and Ludhiana MP Ravneet Bittu on Wednesday and expressed his concerns about the ticket distribution. Rahul reportedly asked them to resolve their differences.
Bajwa has been openly opposing tickets to new entrants in the party, including Inderbir Singh Bolaria and former jails minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur. Amarinder, on the other hand, wants them to contest as Phillaur is considered a strong Dalit leader with a mass base. It is also learnt that Bajwa blocked the entry of another SAD MLA Avinash Chander, who was questioned by Enforcement Directorate in the infamous Jagdish Bhola drugs case. Amarinder had tweeted to say Chander was not joining the Congress two days after Chander tweeted he was joining Congress on November 29.
The party has been in opposition in Punjab for past two consecutive terms after losing Assembly elections under Amarinder’s leadership. Amarinder, who has declared it to be his last election, does not want to go down losing. The party does not want a repeat of 2012 when as many as 22 rebels had spoiled Congress’s prospects.
Amarinder and Bajwa had buried their hatchet soon after the former took over as state president. But Bajwa, it is learnt, got offended when his supporters were not accommodated in the PPCC list. He has been opposing Amarinder on certain issues for the last few months. He supported cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s entry into the Congress at the time when Amarinder was opposing it. Later, Bajwa started opposing tickets to new entrants saying they should be made to work for the party for three years before being named as candidates.