Chandigarh: Beleagured Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh, whose removal has been demanded by some senior party leaders following the drubbing in recent assembly polls, on Thursday got the support of 62 of the 71 Congress candidates.
   
The 62 Congress candidates, in a joint statement here, opposed a move by some partymen, including Amarinder's known detractor Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, for putting the entire blame of the Congress' defeat on Amarinder’s head.
   
Maintaining that there were several other factors which influenced the poll outcome, they appreciated the leadership of Amarinder for leading the party to secure "maximum number of votes" across the state.
   
The candidates questioned the attempts by "certain vested interests within the party, some of whom had either no standing or were a spent force", for leading a "malicious" campaign driven by "personal agendas" against Amarinder.
   
They said but for "vigorous" efforts of Amarinder, the party could have fared worse in the elections.  They claimed "it was so close that it could have swung either way."
   
Referring to Union Minister Ashwani Kumar's (without naming him) call for new leadership in PCC, the candidates termed him as a "rootless-wonder" who had left Punjab decades ago. The only time he had contested the parliamentary election, he could not poll even ten thousand votes, they added.
   
Appealing to the party high command to strictly enforce discipline and rein in those elements who were raising the issue in public, they said there was no guarantee that they were not doing it at the behest of the Akalis.
   
After the Congress defeat at the hands of SAD-BJP combine in the recent assembly polls, voices of dicontent against Amarinder's leadership were raised at several platforms by certain party leaders, including Bhattal and Ashwani Kumar.
   
A section of Congress leaders raised the pitch for removal of Amarinder as the party lost two consecutive polls – last Lok Sabha in 2009 and assembly elections this year under his leadership.

(Agencies)