Captain Amarinder Singh, two-time former Punjab chief minister, joined the BJP on Monday in the presence of union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar, Kiren Rijiju, BJP leader Sunil Jakhar and Punjab unit chief Ashwani Sharma. Singh also merged his newly-formed Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) with the saffron party.
On joining the saffron party, he also met national party president JP Nadda and union home minister Amit Shah. “This is a party working in the interest of the country. I thank the leadership of the BJP for welcoming us. I discussed with all my party members and we decided to do this," Singh said during the induction ceremony, adding that he had told PM (Narendra Modi), Nadda ji and HM (Amit Shah) that he would join the party once he had returned from abroad after his treatment.
पंजाब के पूर्व मुख्यमंत्री @capt_amarinder जी की पंजाब लोक कांग्रेस पार्टी (PLC) के भाजपा में विलय पर उनका व उनकी पूरी टीम का भाजपा परिवार में हृदय से स्वागत करता हूँ।यह ऐतिहासिक निर्णय श्री @narendramodi जी के सुरक्षित, समृद्ध व सशक्त पंजाब के संकल्प को और अधिक बल देगा। pic.twitter.com/GcinaNuW7K
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) September 19, 2022
“For Captain Amarinder Singh, nation comes first. There is no compromise on that front. We are very happy to have this merger. I welcome Captain and his people,” Tomar said at the induction, adding, “it is important for national security that Punjab has stability and peace. His presence in the BJP will strengthen us. It is a historic day.”
He further said: “Punjab and Sikhs have always been there to protect the country.”
Along with Singh, former deputy speaker of Punjab Assembly Ajaib Singh Bhatti, former MP Amrik Singh Aliwal, former legislators Harchand Kaur, Harinder Singh Thekedar, Prem Mittal and labour leader Kewal Singh also joined the BJP with scores of his supporters. The former adviser to Amarinder Singh, BIS Chahal, also joined the saffron party.
The 80-year-old floated the PLC last year after quitting the Congress following his unceremonious exit as chief minister, but his party failed to win any seat in the state assembly polls.
Singh lost from his home turf of Patiala Urban. The PLC contested the elections in alliance with the BJP and the Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt).
On Captain’s joining, Rijiju said Punjab was an important state and should be properly managed by the right people.
Singh had met Prime Minister Modi and Shah a few days ago. After his meeting with the home minister on September 12, Singh had said he held a productive discussion on different issues related to national security, rising cases of narco-terrorism in Punjab and the future roadmap for the state’s overall holistic development.
‘Not necessary wife will follow husband’
While Singh’s son Raninder Singh and daugher Jai Inder Kaur also joined the BJP alongside their father, wife Preneet Kaur stays firmly associated with the Congress.
Asked if wife Preneet would also join the BJP, pat came Singh’s reply. “Is it necessary for the wife to do what the husband is doing?" Singh asked mediapersons, leaving everyone laughing. Preneet Kaur served as a minister of state in the external affairs ministry during the Manmohan Singh-led government from 2009 to 2014.
On the completion of the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, Singh said, “My job is to fight for Punjab and I will continue to do that. Our ideology is the same," he said, adding that Punjab faced threats from across the border in Pakistan.
“We are hemmed in by two borders, two hostile nations and it is our duty to protect our country, our home state. If we don’t do it, then we are not doing our duty towards the nation," he said, alleging that during (former defence minister) AK Antony’s time not even one type of weapon was purchased by the army, navy or air force.
“Weaponry is coming in and that is necessary for us if we have to secure our nation," he said, adding that the BJP was doing a lot to strengthen the nation’s security.
(with inputs from PTI)