Post the Lok Sabha elections, the Punjab Congress is at war with itself, divided as it is into two camps, both at each other’s throats. Upbeat after his victory from Amritsar against BJP stalwart Arun Jaitely, former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has come out all guns blazing against Pratap Singh Bajwa, Punjab Pradesh Congress president (PPC), demanding that he step down from his position.
The former Chief Minister also suggested at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting at Delhi on Friday that PCC presidents and Congress Chief Ministers of those States where the party had fared badly should offer to resign. He said that he himself had resigned as the PCC president when the party lost to the Akali Dal-BJP combine in 2012. He was succeeded by his bête noire Mr. Bajwa at that time and since then the two have been taking pot shots at each other. Mr. Bajwa lost the Gurdaspur seat to Vinod Khanna of the BJP and the Amarinder Singh camp has pointed out that not only has the party come down from eight seats in 2009 to three now under his leadership, but that Mr. Bajwa has lost from all Assembly segments of Gurdaspur too, including the segment represented by his wife.
Early this week, 24 legislators from the Amarinder camp, led by Kewal Dhillon and Rana Sodhi and some district presidents, urged Mr. Bajwa to take moral responsibility for the defeat and resign. The latter responded by issuing disciplinary notices to Mr. Dhillon and Mr. Sodhi.
It was followed by seven legislators from the Bajwa camp challenging Captain Singh’s questioning of Mr. Bajwa’s leadership. Captain Amarinder Singh has since unleashed a series of volleys. He first warned the PCC president against attempts to “gag popular sentiment in the party” by issuing disciplinary notices.
On Saturday, Captain Singh went one step further and alleged that both Mr. Bajwa and his brother Fateh Singh Bajwa had visited Amritsar during the election campaign and tried to sabotage it. Now that the matter has been brought up in the CPP, the battle for the PCC position has shifted to Delhi. Quite clearly, Captain Singh sees this as an opportunity to wrest the position from Mr. Bajwa.