TWO YEARS after Capt Amarinder Singh began his luncheon diplomacy to erode the support base of his bete noire and then PPCC president, Partap Singh Bajwa, the latter appears to be adopting a similar strategy. Bajwa has invited over 150 Congress leaders to his residence on Saturday afternoon, including his supporters and MLAs who are either neutral or opposed to Amarinder.
The luncheon, his supporters say, is Bajwa’s attempt at a show of strength and to gauge if leaders, he had appointed office-bearers, would stand by him.
While Bajwa has himself called several senior leaders like former PPCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo, his brother Fateh Jung Singh Bajwa has been inviting party leaders since Friday. A large shamiana has been set up at Bajwa’s official residence in Sector 8, Chandigarh.
“I will be going but we are preparing for Amarinder’s rally on Monday. This lunch should not be viewed as anything else,” said Anil Dutta, a Doaba-based leader and a Bajwa loyalist. He added that just a few of his loyalists are gathering since they had not met in the recent past.
Another Bajwa loyalist, ex-MLA Jasbir Dimpa, said he would be part of the lunch but denied it was a show of strength. “We are preparing for Badlav rally. We will decide on how many buses to take,” he said.
The Amarinder camp has, however, been claiming they have not asked leaders from Doaba and Majha to get people for the rally. Responding to this, Dimpa said: “We will take our supporters. It doesn’t matter if we have been asked to or not”.
Bajwa’s luncheon will be watched by the Amarinder camp. Amarinder had initially unsettled Bajwa by organising parallel meetings and lunches when the latter had just taken over. At first, Amarinder, began with a few people but then began extending invites to more and more leaders. In the end, he got the support of 35 of the 44 Congress MLAs in Punjab.
Along similar lines, the Bajwa camp insists that even if 50 leaders turn up, it would be an indication that the former Congress president still enjoys support.
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