Amarinder meets Sonia Gandhi, seeks leadership change in Punjab
Factional fued in Punjab Congress escalated today as former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday met party chief Sonia Gandhi and is understood to have pressed for removal of Pratap Singh Bajwa as PCC chief.
New Delhi: Factional fued in Punjab Congress escalated today as former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday met party chief Sonia Gandhi and is understood to have pressed for removal of Pratap Singh Bajwa as PCC chief.
Singh has also invited senior Congress leaders from the state, including party MLAs, district presidents and former Ministers at his Patiala residence on Sunday seeking to show his strength and to strategise the party's revival in Punjab.
According to sources, Singh met Sonia at her residence and is understood to have told her that Bajwa, his known detractor, has failed to take the party along with him leading to major dissidence against his leadership.
For the record, Singh told PTI that "I met her to inquire about her health as she was unwell and was in hospital when I was abroad. It was a courtesy call."
He later said "Bajwa cannot secure victory for the party...It is time Pratap Bajwa is changed if Congress is to be rejuvinated in Punjab."
Singh has been openly airing his views against the leadership of Bajwa, who has been his known detractor, and seeking a change in the leadership in Punjab.
Singh is understood to have told Sonia that if Congress has any chance left in Punjab, the party has to change Bajwa, who he alleges has failed to take the party with him and bring in fresh blood and vigour into the party.
He also told her that there were enough senior leaders in the party to replace him, an indication that he may himself not be given the hob of PCC chief.
Sources said Singh had also met Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi before going abroad and raised the issue of leadership change with him.
The former Chief Minister said he has been seeking a change of guard in the Congress leadership in Punjab for over a year and a half now to prevent the party from splitting, especially at a time when BJP-Akali Dal equation seems to be changing.
There has been intense factionalism within Punjab
unit of Congress ever since the last Lok Sabha polls where the party could win only three seats out of a total of 13, with new entrant AAP securing four seats.
The meeting between Sonia and Amarinder came at a time when strains between Punjab's ruling coalition partners Akali Dal and BJP appear to be growing, with a section of BJP in the state seeking severing of ties with SAD and going it alone in the next assembly elections.
Punjab goes to polls in January 2017. Congress has lost to the SAD-BJP combine in the previous two assembly polls.
Singh, who is also Congress' deputy leader in Lok Sabha, was virtually absent in the winter session of Parliament and could be replaced.
Party sources also did not rule out the possibility of the 72-year-old leader being made Congress' Chief Ministerial candidate in Punjab where assembly elections are due in 2017.