Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi Friday held a meeting with Captain Amarinder Singh who, according to sources, has emerged as one of the frontrunners for the post of state Congress chief amid the leadership tussle in the Punjab unit of the party.
Party sources indicated that Rahul seems to have warmed up to the idea of the former chief minister — who commands the support of a majority of the MLAs and a large section of the party — heading the Punjab unit. Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa was Rahul’s first political appointee.
Though the Congress managed to win three seats in Punjab in the Lok Sabha elections as compared to the disastrous performance in north India, Bajwa’s leadership has come under question from Singh ahead of the 2017 Assembly elections. Singh had led the party to defeat in 2007 and 2012, but is arguably still the most popular Congress face in Punjab.
According to sources, while the leadership was keen to make general secretary Ambika Soni the state chief, Captain insists that he be given the responsibility. Sources said Soni and Singh are currently the frontrunners. They added that Rahul may have a second meeting with Singh next week, suggesting that Friday’s meeting was inconclusive.
Singh, sources said, was scheduled to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi as well but left for Punjab after the 90-minute meeting with Rahul. To gauge the mood of the party, Rahul had in the last two weeks met several Congress MLAs and district presidents. The high command decided to tread cautiously after reports that Singh could look for options outside the party. Bajwa himself had alleged that Singh is planning to split the party and launch a separate outfit.
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