New Delhi: Amid an open confrontation between Captain Amarinder Singh and state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, senior party leader Manish Tewari has said the former CM is a “natural leader” who can make the 2017 Assembly polls swing in the Congress’s favour. He added that Bajwa has not clicked as the state party chief despite “
He said the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) poses a challenge to Congress as people in Punjab, like elsewhere, are yearning for a “third way” in politics and it is time party leaders set aside their differences and present a cohesive front.
“There is no denying the fact that one of the natural leaders of Punjab…is Captain Amarinder Singh. Like in the Akali Dal, Parkash Singh Badal is a natural leader,” he told The Indian Express. He added: “We have a fair chance in 2017 and Amarinder Singh can deliver the state to us.”
“To put it bluntly, Akali Dal and BJP feel he is the guy who can give them a run for their money,” he said.
Tewari, however added that there was “genuine anxiety” among party leaders in the state regarding the infighting.
He said Bajwa has had a long innings in the Congress and everyone had supported his elevation to state party chief’s post.
“Everybody, including, Captain thought he should be given a chance. Unfortunately, it has not clicked. I do not hold him responsible. Bajwa has been a Congressman for long. But at times, despite best efforts, the dynamics do not work. It is not for lack of trying,” he said.
Asked why, in his opinion, Singh had failed to power the Congress to victory in the 2007 and 2012 Assembly polls, Tewari said Congress fought the 2012 Punjab polls when the UPA government at the Centre was on the backfoot over the 2G Spectrum controversy and the Anna Hazare agitation.
He added that the distribution of tickets for the Assembly polls was also responsible for the debacle. “Singh is not alone to blame. Everybody made mistakes in the choices they made in their respective constituencies,” he said.
Tewari added that the people of Punjab have made up their mind that they want to give somebody else a chance. “Earlier, Congress was the natural alternative to the Akali-BJP alliance, but now the AAP is the joker in the pack,” he said.“If the party is divided or perceived as factionalised, we will definitely be in a difficult position,” he added.
Asked to comment on Bajwa’s allegations that Amarinder was plotting to split the party and float a new outfit, Tewari said: “Forming another party or striking out on his own sounds like a complete hogwash at this juncture.”
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