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Will 'Maharaja' Switch to BJP or Float New Party? After Change of Guard, Capt Keeps Cards Close to Chest

File photo of former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. (PTI)

File photo of former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh. (PTI)

The former Punjab CM made it clear that he would explore and exercise his political options at an appropriate time.

In the words of former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh, he is yet to “hang his boots." This has given birth to a host of options that the former army veteran may take in order to keep his political life alive after he resigned as chief minister of Punjab on Saturday, citing “humiliation".

Soon after putting in his papers, Amarinder Singh accused Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu of having ties with Pakistan and even called him “anti-national". He also warned that his becoming the chief minister of Punjab will be a threat to India’s national security.

BJP’s Lok Sabha MP from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur and Minister of State for Commerce and Industry in the Modi government, Som Prakash, while talking to IANS said, “The Congress has accepted by removing the chief minister that its government in Punjab has been a failure on all fronts."

He also accused the Congress government of promoting mafia, corruption and illegal mining in the state.

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But at the same time, Som Prakash also said, “What Amarinder Singh is saying about Navjot Singh Sidhu is true and everyone knows it."

Responding to the question whether Captain will join the BJP, Union Minister Som Prakash said, “What will happen in politics, nobody knows." However, he added that the party high command has to decide on it.

BJP’s national spokesperson Sardar R.P. Singh said, “It is the Captain Saheb who has to decide whether he is disillusioned with the family (Gandhi family) or not and what he plans next." He also added that if Amarinder Singh expresses his wish to join the BJP, then the party will take a call at the appropriate time. It is too early to say anything."

The BJP is going to contest the Assembly elections in Punjab on its own for the first time after the Akali Dal left the alliance.

The BJP at the moment does not have any strong face as a chief ministerial candidate in the state. Political observers also believe that the BJP can benefit from the association with a leader like Amarinder Singh just like it did in Assam.

Meanwhile, Singh made it clear that he would explore and exercise his political options at an appropriate time.

The 79-year-old said he would decide his future political course of action in consultation with his supporters who have stood by him for over five decades. “There is always an option, and I will use that option when the time comes…at the moment I am still in Congress,” he said after submitting his resignation.

“The only way Capt. Amarinder can survive is by joining another party. Floating a new party won’t be an easy task. His best bet could be the Bharatiya Janata Party. Capt. Amarinder has a moderate image and is an acceptable leader among Hindus in Punjab. He has been invoking his military background, national security issues, targeting Navjot Singh Sidhu on his Pakistan connection — it all blends well with the BJP line,” Ashutosh Kumar, professor with political science department of Punjab University told The Hindu.

Experts think floating a new party is not easy, but if he floats a new party it is unlikely to help him although it shall damage Congress’s electoral prospects.

Captain Amarinder has in the past threatened the Congress leadership or ‘high command with splitting the party if he was not declared as chief ministerial candidate, most notably in 2017.

Singh on Saturday ruled out quitting politics and said that as an Army man, he had a lot of will and would remain active in the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab. “I am not hanging my boots,” he declared. .

He also rejected claims by the Congress leadership that he had lost the confidence of the MLAs, terming it a lame excuse. “Just a week ago, I had sent to Sonia Gandhi a list of 63 MLAs who were supporting me,” he said, adding that MLAs usually respond to what they think Delhi wants, which was the case at the Congress Legislature Party meeting too. In any case, it is not possible to make all MLAs happy, he added.

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first published:September 20, 2021, 11:53 IST