The Congress on Friday handed over the reins of Punjab Congress to former CM Captain Amarinder Singh. The party handed over the mantle of leading the Congress campaign for the 2017 Punjab Assembly polls to senior general secretary Ambika Soni.
Making Soni the head of the campaign committee is an attempt to placate the anti-Amarinder Singh group in the party, led by former state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, which fears it will be sidelined in the ticket distribution and other election-related exercises. With Amarinder Singh heading the organisation, the party also wanted a non-Sikh in a key role to balance the religious equation.
Amarinder also had his way in other appointments. His nominees Lal Singh and Sadhu Singh Dharamsot were appointed senior vice-president of the state Congress unit and vice-chairman of the campaign committee, respectively.
A former state minister, Lal Singh is a prominent OBC face while Nabha MLA Dharamsot is a Dalit leader.
Ludhiana MP Ravneet Singh Bittu, grandson of former CM Beant Singh, was appointed convener of the campaign committee, the composition of which is yet to be announced.
Further appointments will be made shortly, Congress general secretary in-charge of organisation Janardan
Dwivedi said. Amarinder, who had been demanding Bajwa’s ouster for long, said he was overwhelmed by the decision. “It is a sensitive task…We are coming into the job at a time when the position of the Akali-BJP alliance is very poor. I think we should have a headstart. It is a question of consolidating and building on,” he added.
Asked about the issues his party would raise, he said that governance is a failure in Punjab and accused the state government of destroying Punjab’s social and economic fabric.