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Posted at: May 27, 2019, 7:15 AM; last updated: May 27, 2019, 7:15 AM (IST)

Back-room leaders who made it happen for Congress

Their role

  • Coordinating with the Congress high command in Delhi
  • Getting feedback from all 13 parliamentary constituencies in the state
  • Report to the CM every evening and get the emerging suggestions executed within a day
Back-room leaders who made it happen for Congress
State Cong president Sunil Jakhar, Lal Singh and Raninder Singh in Patiala. Tribune photo

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 26

The BJP, which swept to power with a spectacular performance for the second term riding high on Modi wave, failed to have much effect in Punjab, thanks to Capt Amarinder Singh-led state government’s “strategic poll planning and execution”.

Behind the curtains, two handpicked men of Capt Amarinder Singh worked round-the-clock for a month, coordinating with the party high command in Delhi besides getting feedback from all 13 parliamentary constituencies. The aim was to allow candidates continue with their rallies and campaigning without any trouble.

The two-man team comprised former Punjab Congress chief Lal Singh, who has over 51 years of political experience, and Chief Minister’s son Raninder Singh.

“Our brief was to ensure that all constituencies got 1-2 days of campaigning by Capt Amarinder Singh and based on our inputs, we shortlisted constituencies where Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi would hold rallies or roadshows,” said Raninder Singh. The idea was not to disturb or burden the candidates and their teams, he added. “We would report to the CM every evening and the emerging suggestions would be executed within a day,” he said. “As the PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar was busy with his own election in Gurdaspur, I was asked to look after the Election campaign committee. I took Raninder Singh with me and together we ensured that we have 13 general secretary-level persons in every constituency, providing their direct feedback to us at the Congress Bhawan,” Lal Singh told The Tribune.

Raninder said their primary job was to plan visits, supervise and shortlist rally sites, keep a backup for everything, obtain necessary permissions, mobilise workers and arrange transportation.

“Every morning, we would get together and seek reports from every constituency and ensure their issues got CM’s attention. The demand for Capt Amarinder Singh came from every constituency and we tried to accommodate them all,” he said.

“We arranged hundreds of buses the day Priyanka Gandhi held a rally and a road show. For the Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Bathinda, Raninder suggested that we should use the same tents and the site where the PM had held a rally a day ago. It helped us save over 60 per cent on costs,” Lal Singh said.

“Raninder Singh showed his political acumen, led from the front and arranged buses from Haryana, Rajasthan and even Delhi. During Rahul Gandhi’s Bargari rally, a sandstorm blew apart our tent a few hours before the rally. Raninder ensured that the rally was massive and the Congress workers faced no problem. The event turned out to be a big show,” he said. Talking about factionalism and fissures in the party, he said he would ask Raninder Singh to hear grievances and sort them out. “During meetings with various leaders and delegations, Raninder ensured that their problems were sorted out then and there. This helped us take everyone along,” Lal Singh claimed.

“We utilised our resources to the maximum. The Congress bagged eight of the 13 Lok Sabha seats. Our party wrested three AAP seats and two of the four held by the Akali Dal. The CM had defined our role clearly and we are happy to have delivered,” Raninder said.

On his absence from Patiala from where his mother was contesting, Raninder said, “I went to Patiala for canvassing for a few days. But the party needed my services across the entire state and I was also determined to do my bit for the party’s victory.”


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