Chandigarh: Against the backdrop of infighting in the party's state unit, Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday asked the partymen to stand united to fight against the alleged misrule of Akali government.
Rahul, who was on a day-long visit to the state asked the unit to gear up the party to confront the Akali Dal-BJP alliance on the drug issue.
He announced that a 'Save Punjab' campaign will be launched on November 14 to eradicate the menace of drugs, the leaders who attended the meeting told reporters, who were not allowed at the venue.
Rahul's visit, seen to rev up the party ahead of the 2017 assembly polls, was also seen as a boost to the party camp led by State Congress President Pratap Singh Bajwa.
The Punjab Congress chief faced challenge to his leadership from the rival camp led by former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh after Congress' ordinary show in the Lok Sabha polls that included Bajwa losing his seat from Gurdaspur followed by another loss in the recent bypoll in Talwandi Sabo.
Even today, factionalism in the state unit came to fore when a few DCC and BCC leaders owing allegiance to the Amarinder Singh camp alleged before reporters that they were not permitted to raise issues at their meeting with Rahul.
Asked what was the main message which Rahul gave to the partymen, Amarinder Singh said that the broader message was for unity.
"The broader message was for unity, for us to get together to fight the government which is destroying the state," Amarinder Singh told PTI after the meeting.
Former Chief Minister and senior leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said that Rahul's message was that "the need of the hour is that Congress should unitedly fight against the alleged misrule of the Akali government".
Another senior Congress leader Raninder Singh said that the broader message which Rahul Gandhi gave was to get active and play a constructive opposition's role in Punjab.
"He also asked us to strongly take up the various issues of non-governance that the Akali-BJP leadership have given us, be it drugs or other issues, unemployment and bring them to the fore," Raninder said.
PPCC General Secretary Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa said "the message of Rahul Gandhi was loud and clear that he asked all the leaders to behave and be together".
Meanwhile, according to a Punjab Congress release, apart
from a resolution adopted for moving the Supreme Court to seek CBI probe into the "smuggling of drugs", Rahul Gandhi said the party volunteers would be trained to educate people against the menace of drugs who would go door to door to cover the entire state within two years beginning November 14.
In the first phase, this campaign would be launched in five Assembly constituencies including Majitha, Qadian, Ghanaur, Chabewal and Ludhiana Urban.
"The party decided to give top priority to the eradication of this menace which is eating into the vitals of once the most progressive state, but had now come into the category of laggards due to mismanagement, non-governance and open loot by the SAD government," the release said.
According to the release, Rahul's emphasis was on strengthening the party at the lowest levels. He made it clear that the criteria for the allotment of tickets would be party work.
Another important decision taken at the meeting of the presidents of the DCCs and BCCs was to set up booth level committees.
Rahul Gandhi called upon the party to complete the exercise of setting 11-member committee for each of the about 19,000 booths and the exercise would be completed in about a month.