The new Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh will formally take charge at a party rally in Bathinda on December 15. The decision was taken at a meeting between Amarinder, party MLAs and other leaders at his Moti Bagh residence in Patiala on Thursday.
While senior leaders including Lal Singh and Sunil Jakhar were present, Amarinder’s predecessor, Partap Singh Bajwa, was conspicuous by his absence despite being invited for the meeting. Sources said Bajwa was away in Delhi but added that he has given his word that he will be present at Bathinda and in Chandigarh on December 16, when Amarinder will be sworn in as the PPCC chief.
“It has been decided to hold a rally at Bathinda on December 15. Captain Amarinder Singh along with the entire Congress leadership will be attending the rally. It will be historic in every way,” Sunil Jakhar told The Indian Express. Lal Singh has been named its convenor and will oversee arrangements. “People are themselves telling us they will be part of it. We are not like the Akalis who use government machinery to make their rallies a success,” he said.
Sources at the meeting also confirmed that though Amarinder talked of targeting over two lakh people, local leaders were ordered to ensure that at least 1.5 lakh people land up in Bathinda at any cost.
While December 13 had been set as the tentative date for the rally, Congressmen who attended the meeting said that there was a feeling that it was an “unlucky date” and hence the party settled for December 15. Party workers had also reportedly expressed apprehensions over whether they would be able to ensure proper attendance on December 13 as it is a Sunday, a wedding muhurat day and is also the date for the Teachers’ Eligibility Test.
The rally is also likely to be an all-Congress affair as no other leader from any other party has been invited. Sources said Amarinder’s mission at the event would be to convey a message to the high command as well as people that the Punjab Congress is united under his leadership.
The party will also meet on December 7 to elect the next CLP leader, a post vacated by Sunil Jakhar. The meeting has been called by Lal Singh and party general secretary.
In-charge Shakeel Ahmed is expected to be part of it. Meanwhile, Devinder Singh Darshi, who had joined the AAP returned to Congress along with his supporters on Thursday. He was welcomed back by Capt Amarinder.
SAD yet to decide on parallel rally
WHILE the ruling SAD had declared that it would hold a parallel rally on the same day as the Congress rally in Bathinda, it has yet to decide on whether to stick to the plan. “We are yet to decide if a rally will be held on December 15. Final decision will be taken by party chief Sukhbir Badal,” Education Minister Daljit Singh Cheema said.