New Delhi: Amid a raging tussle over the leadership of Punjab Congress unit, Rahul Gandhi on Monday met Congress legislators from the state to seek their views on rejuvenating the party with an eye on the next election.
Majority of the MLAs, whom Rahul met in two groups, stressed the need to resolve the issue of leadership at the earliest given the open acrimony between Pradesh Congress Chief Partap Singh Bajwa and former chief minister Amarinder Singh.
With most of the MLAs urging for strong leadership for the state unit, calls backing Amarinder's return to the centre stage of Punjab politics were openly made today, sources indicated.
While Rahul met nine MLAs from reserved segments of Punjab in the first group, he met eight others later. In the second group comprising Bajwa's wife Charanjit Kaur Bajwa, most legislators are learnt to have backed the need for leadership change with Amarinder's name being taken.
Rahul, said sources, only listened and did not say anything. Earlier, he asked the legislators to suggest ways of strengthening the party in Punjab.
Congress leaders said the meeting was significant and heralded the start of consultations on an issue hurting Congress image in Punjab.
"The meet shows the leadership is willing to hear the views of MLAs and work on the solution to the current leadership crisis in the state," said a Congress leader.
Amritsar MP Amarinder has been at loggerheads with Bajwa and is seeking his ouster. Congress wants to resolve the issue amicably as it is affecting the party prospects.
Both Singh and Bajwa have already met the Congress top brass and complained against each other, with the former demanding the ouster of the PCC chief. Punjab goes to polls in early 2017. Congress has lost two consecutive assembly elections to the ruling combine.