Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh
Former Punjab Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Captain Amarinder Singh has dismissed speculation that he may leave the party if he does not get a chance to lead it in the state assembly polls in 2017.
In an exclusive conversation with NDTV, Captain Amarinder Singh said, "These assumptions are wrong. I have utmost confidence in Congress President (Sonia Gandhi). For 16 years, I have headed the party in Punjab. There is no reason for me to leave the party.' (Punjab Congress Infighting Out In The Open as Captain Amarinder Singh Meets Sonia Gandhi
On his demand to remove Partap Singh Bajwa, the state Congress chief, he said, "This is the first time that the opposition's popularity is going down, along with that of the ruling party. When you are going down, you have to check the downslide, and for that seriously introspect and bring about a change in leadership".
"We have plenty of people in the state who can lead (the party). One man is not the answer for any state, there are umpteen options. If I am asked, I will give names (for the state Congress chief's post)," said Captain Singh.
Recently, the Congress leader had summoned a meeting of his supporters in Patiala, which was interpreted by some as an effort to mount pressure on the party high command for a change in leadership in the state.
But he told NDTV that it was a meeting of "friends".
"'it was a meeting of people whom I consider my friends, there were 35 Members of Legislative Assembly, 60 former MLAs and Members of Parliament. Had it not been a Sunday, there could have been at least 40 MLAs there. They were Congressmen. They came to endorse my public stand," he said.
On the rally planned by the BJP against the drug menace in the state, which has since been called off, he said, "We decided in the meeting to take on (BJP President) Amit Shah. We are opposing him because his party is in the (ruling state) government (led by the Akali Dal). If you don't agree with them, then make your party walk out of the government.'