Ajay Banerjee, Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 10. Rumblings within the Punjab Congress have reached a crescendo with the group opposed to the state party chief deciding to approach Sonia Gandhi with a one-point agenda: replace Amarinder Singh.
Sources said Amarinder’s arch rival in the party, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, is cobbling together a small group that will comprise former state party presidents. Amarinder’s opponents accuse him of having led the party to a second consecutive defeat in the state assembly elections. His supporters, however, want him to stay on till the next Lok Sabha elections due in 2014.
A small group of party detractors comprising Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Jagmeet Brar and Pratap Bajwa met at Kaypee’s residence on Monday.
This morning, Bhattal, who was on her way back from Jaipur, met two former PPCC chiefs, Varinder Katraia and Shamsher Dullo. Sources said the group wanted to contact RL Bhatia and Mohinder Singh Gill besides HS Hanspal to bring all former PPCC chiefs on board. Bhattal is also a former party chief.
The problem with the anti-Amarinder group is that they cannot agree to his successor. The group, sources said, would like to tell party chief Sonia Gandhi that it would accept the high command’s word on the new appointee once Amarinder is removed.
On the other hand, the AK Antony-led three-member committee, set up by the party high command, is yet to decide on expanding the scope of meetings with Punjab leaders. However, four state party leaders — Avtar Singh Brar, Surinder Singla, Nasib Singh Gill and Varinder Kataria — called on Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit today. They reportedly pressed for a change at the top in the Punjab party unit.
Apart from Antony and Dikshit, Union Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is the third member of the committee that is tasked with analyzing the fault-lines in Punjab, Uttarakhand, UP and Goa party units. A report of the committee is expected this month-end.