The Congress Party is sinking. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should make way for Rahul Gandhi, says Congress MP from Gurudaspur, Sardar Partap Singh Bajwa. Sheela Bhatt reports
"This is stunning. How can the Indian army chief speak like this? Is there a government in this country? Why the man who dares to offer a bribe to the Indian army chief not arrested yet? Congress party must do something in New Delhi. Bring in Rahul Gandhi. The young leadership would at least take the decision. I have no doubt that it will help the country and the party. This government is sinking. It will drown the Congress party too if some major surgery is not done right away," says none-other-than Sardar Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress party's Member of Parliament from Gurudaspur.
Talking exclusively to rediff.com, Bajwa, who is one of the most powerful and successful Congress leaders of Punjab, says, "Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should make way for Rahul Gandhi because if we don't pull up our socks now then I am not sure what will happen two years down the line."
Bajwa is a strong voice within the party against Captain Amrinder Singh's leadership. Bajwa finds the captain's royal background not fitting the Congress's pro-poor image at the grassroot level. He thinks that now, after the recent rout in the election, Congress is in the opposition in Punjab and it needs a leader who can fight the Akali government from the street-level and not sitting in luxurious palaces. He has indirectly indicated about Captain Singh who belongs to the former royal family of Patiyala and lives in magnificent mansions.
When asked about Rahul Gandhi's total failure in Uttar Pradesh, Bajwa said, "I am a true and original Congressman. We are wedded to Congress ideology. My father Sardar Satnam Singh was assassinated during Punjab's fundamentalist movement. We stood up and fought for Congress's ideology. Indira Gandhi lost the election after emergency but she revived it in just two years. We have given blood for the party and it pains to see a paralysed government. We, the Congressmen, are fighters and we will fight for our cause. Rahul has been defeated in UP only because the infrastructure of the party was lacking. He had the courage to take up the challenge in spite of knowing that win was unlikely. I think he fought and he fought bravely."
Bajwa even claims that more than 200 Congress leaders in New Delhi and in the states are exchanging views on this line. He also thinks that PM Singh is unable to control the slide of the government and the party. Bajwa says, "How do you arrest the slide? We have to do something now, or else it will be too late. We have thought over the issue. Rahul is the only ray of hope. He is the only promise that we have."
Bajwa has seen it all and done it all within the party in his state. He was made president of Youth Congress in 1982. He entered Punjab assembly in 1992 representing Qadian, his hometown. In his three assembly terms he has been minister handling variety of portfolios with four successive congress chief ministers. Bajwa says there are four Congress MPs in the current Parliament whose family members have been assassinated by fundamentalist elements. They are pained to see the downfall of Congress in Punjab and in New Delhi. He says, "I find that people in New Delhi are totally disconnected from states and the leaders in the states do not know what is in the mind of New Delhi.
Bajwa has sent four invitations to PM Singh to inaugurate a Rs 240 crore infrastructure project in his constituency but PM Singh has so far neither agreed or disagreed to inaugurate it.
Bajwa says again and again, "The Congressmen have only two options. Let us save the party or get drowned. Bring in Rahul Gandhi and start the endeavor to change the face of India."