Poll-beaten Congress has once again returned to war of attrition as change of guard looks imminent. At a time when party president Capt Amarinder Singh has called upon all opposition parties to unite against punitive taxation of Akali-BJP regime through state-wide dharnas on September 7,his detractors within the party are all set for non-cooperation movement.
Almost all top contenders for the post and their loyalists are boycotting Amarinders meetings and arrangements for the dharnas. Yesterdays meeting on September 7 protests were attended by 29 out of 46 sitting MLAs and just 30 out of 71 defeated candidates. Among the absentees were some Amarinder loyalists such as Rana Gurmit Sodhi and Kewal Dhillon,who excused themselves for personal engagements,others are those owing allegiance to top contenders for the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) presidency and senior leaders.
Leading the final onslaught against Amarinder is former leader of opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal whose loyalist sitting MLAs such as Randeep Nabha and Rakesh Pandey and those who lost the 2012 polls Isher Singh Meherban,Darshan Brar and Avtar Brar have – have announced an open war against Amarinder. Gurdaspur MP Pratap Bajwa,another top contender,was also absent so was AICC member Jagmeet Brar and former PPCC presidents Mohinder Singh Kaypee and Shamsher Dullo. Jagmeets brother,Ripjit Brar,is also part of the oust-Captain lobby.
We will just give our token support to the dharnas. The brief from PPCC is that each dharnna should witness a gathering of at least 10,000 people. Not even one-tenth of this figure is likely to be present as we will not go their with the usual strength (of supporters) and vigour. Let Amarinder prove his popularity on his own, one of the leaders of the rival camp said.
The most-recent flashpoint between the two warring factions is the so-called resolution of disciplinary action passed against dissidents in yesterdays meeting. Former MLA Sukhpal Khaira,who is leading the oust-Amarinder charge,said such resolution defies inner party democracy. On one side,they are begging other parties to join their protests and on the other,are being intimidating and dictatorial towards their own partymen. They want to leave no place for voicing ones opinion within the party, he added.
The PPCC was today quick to disown any such move. We just appealed to our partymen to stand united,there was no resolution on taking disciplinary action against anyone. There is inner party democracy in Congress and every person has the right to speak, PPCC senior vice-president Laal Singh,to whom the alleged resolution was attributed in a section of the press,said.
Amarinder,who has always preferred being non-confrontationist with his rivals,too denied any such move. There was no such resolution. Laal Singh during his speech just said such activities weaken the party.
However,on his three-month tour,Amarinder is assertive. I am still the Punjab Congress president. Its been three months that a AICC spokesman said I will continue on the post till the civic polls in state. But there has been no decision so far. I just cant sit like this. Some activity has to start or it will otherwise damage the party. At a time the common man has been burdened with such heavy taxes by the ruling regime,we owe it to our people to fight for their cause, Amarinder said.