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Amarinder raises pitch for leadership change in Punjab
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Wants Cong to rope in Priyanka

Capt Amarinder said it was time the Congress inducted Priyanka Gandhi formally into the party so that she and Rahul could complement each other.

New Delhi, May 21
After defeating BJP stalwart Arun Jaitley in Amritsar Lok Sabha segment, former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today set the tone for leadership change in the state Congress, saying he would love to go back to Punjab in whatever capacity the party deemed fit.

Speaking exclusively to The Tribune, Capt clarified as to where he saw himself in the future. “My love has always been my state. I am now representing Punjab in Delhi. I could do better representing Punjab in Punjab. I would like to be in my state in whatever capacity the party deems fit. That way, I will leave this world a happier man,” newly elected Congress MP Amarinder Singh said.

Asked whether he would like to play a national role having established his political primacy in Punjab where the Congress won just three seats out of 13 in the Lok Sabha polls, Amarinder said: “If given a choice between leading the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and contributing to the Congress in Punjab, I will prefer the latter. If the party leadership asks me, I will say yes to Punjab …and I hope it happens soon.”

Amarinder’s statement comes at a time when Punjab Congress legislators are demanding the resignation of current state party chief Partap Singh Bajwa, who lost to actor-turned politician Vinod Khanna in his own segment, Gurdaspur.

Though the Congress is in the process of setting up a five-member committee to examine the party’s rout in Punjab, sources indicate that a leadership change in the state was a clear future possibility and all options for the party’s revival were open. Congress leaders say Amarinder had elevated his position to an extent where it would not be possible for the Central leadership to deny him a role he chose for himself.

Amarinder is the only member of the Congress Working Committee who won the LS polls besides Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. “It is for Capt to open the cards,” a source in the All India Congress Committee (AICC) said.

At a recent CWC meeting, Capt Amarinder had backed the Gandhis, saying PM Manmohan Singh and his ministers must take the entire blame for Congress’ debacle. He suggested: “Look at every state unit and revamp it as needed; form four CWC zonal sub-committees to introspect over losses at a micro level.”

About the Aam Aadmi Party winning four seats in the state, he said: “The vote share of Akalis and Congress in 2009 was 41 per cent and 40 per cent, respectively. Today, it’s 36 per cent and 34 per cent, respectively. Why did we lose more votes to AAP than Akalis did?” He attributed losses to the state leadership that failed to encash on the sweeping anti-Akali sentiment.





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