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'BJP's B Team': Amarinder's Decision to Form New Party Sets Punjab's Political Cauldron Simmering Again

Captain Amarinder resigned as chief minister of Punjab last month after a bitter feud with Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and infighting in the state unit. (Image: PTI)

Captain Amarinder resigned as chief minister of Punjab last month after a bitter feud with Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and infighting in the state unit. (Image: PTI)

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) said it has not received any proposal yet from Captain Amarinder Singh for alliance in Punjab polls.

A day after former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh announced that he would soon announce his own political party and will look for an alliance with like-minded parties in state assembly elections, several political parties have reacted to it wherein some advised him to leave the Congress first, while the others called him “BJP’s B Team".

Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) president Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and his son Parminder Dhindsa on Wednesday said they have not received any proposal yet from Captain Amarinder for alliance. “No contact or proposal so far from Captain Amarinder Singh for an alliance. Captain Amarinder first should quit the Congress," said the father-son duo.

ALSO READ: Captain Amarinder to Float New Party, Says Open to Ally With BJP if Farmers’ Protest Resolved

Calling Captain Amarinder a “Congress person", Parminder Dhindsa told News18, “Captain Amarinder has been a disappointment. We have nothing to do with Amarinder so far. This is just speculation. Punjab needs an alternative to Congress, BJP and SAD. I still think he is a Congress person and not separate."

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While speaking to News18 on Tuesday, BJP leader Harjeet Grewal welcomed Captain Amarinder’s decision and said, “It is up to Captain Amarinder Singh to form a party. This will split the Congress even at an all India level. We welcome this move. Central leadership will decide but we are happy to align with like minded people. Captain Amarinder was accepted by Punjab twice and has a base in Punjab just like the Badals."

However, Congress leader Pargat Singh claimed both Badals and Captain Amarinder are with the BJP. “Not a post-poll alliance. This is a pre-poll alliance. Badals are also with BJP. I said this months back. Captain Amarinder always had an alliance with BJP."

Attacking Captain Amarinder, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal said, “Captain Amarinder is BJP B Team. That is why he is also batting for increasing BSF influence in Punjab."

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For the unversed, Singh resigned as chief minister of Punjab last month after a bitter feud with Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu and infighting in the state unit. The Congress replaced him with Charanjit Singh Channi.

“The battle for Punjab’s future is on. Will soon announce the launch of my own political party to serve the interests of Punjab and its people, including our farmers who’ve been fighting for their survival for over a year," Singh said on Tuesday. The two-time chief minister also said he will not rest until he secures the future of “my people and my state".

“Punjab needs political stability and protection from internal and external threats. I promise my people I will do what it takes to ensure its peace and security, which is today at stake," he was quoted as saying by his media adviser in a tweet.

“Hopeful of a seat arrangement with BJP in 2022 Punjab Assembly polls if farmers protest is resolved in farmers’ interest. Also looking at alliance with like-minded parties such as breakaway Akali groups, particularly Dhindsa and Brahmpura factions," Singh, who had faced an unceremonious exit from the state government last month, said.

Hundreds of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at the Delhi borders since November 26 last year, demanding the repeal of three farm laws, enacted in September last year. The Akali factions mentioned by Singh are of Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, who were expelled from Sukhbir Singh Badal-led Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) earlier for revolting against its leadership. Dhindsa then had formed the Shiromani Akali Dal (Democratic) while Brahmpura had floated the SAD (Taksali). Later, both the leaders formed the SAD (Sanyukt) after the dissolution of SAD (Taksali) and the SAD (Democratic).

After resigning from the post of chief minister, Singh had said that he felt “humiliated". Later, he had also called Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra “inexperienced". Singh had also dubbed state Congress chief Sidhu “anti-national" and “dangerous" and said he would pit a strong candidate against Sidhu in the upcoming assembly polls. Singh had last month met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi and had discussed the prolonged farmers’ stir with him while urging him to resolve the crisis urgently with the repeal of the three farm laws.

His meeting with Shah had triggered speculation of his joining the BJP. Later he scotched speculation of his joining the saffron party but said he would quit the Congress, which he asserted was going downhill with senior leaders being ignored. “I will not join BJP (but) I will not stay in the Congress party," the 79-year-old leader had then said, adding that he had been “utterly humiliated" and was not trusted.

(with inputs from PTI)

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first published:October 20, 2021, 09:48 IST