Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh’s “personal” trip to Delhi on Tuesday triggered speculation over the possibility of the miffed Congress veteran embracing the BJP as his current party struggles to set its house in order in the election-bound state.
The murmurs started in the morning, even before his arch rival Navjot Singh Sidhu resigned as Punjab Congress president.
Many conjectured that Amarinder was in Delhi to meet Union home minister Amit Shah and BJP president J.P. Nadda.
With the claims not substantiated by hard facts, Amarinder’s media adviser Raveen Thukral tried to counter the “unnecessary speculation” but in the process ended up fanning the rumours by not putting out a firm denial.
“Too much being read into @capt_amarinder’s visit to Delhi. He’s on a personal visit during which he’ll meet some friends and also vacate the Kapurthala house for the new CM,” Thukral tweeted. “No need for any unnecessary speculation,” he added.
The BJP was tight-lipped but sources didn’t rule out a meeting of Amarinder with Shah and Nadda.
“There is no such meeting scheduled but politicians keep meeting each other. What is big in it?” one BJP leader said.
Internally, BJP leaders felt that the 79-year-old Amarinder may not be of much use to the party given its unofficial retirement age of 75 but could be valuable in terms of harming its principal rival, the Congress.
“In Punjab we don’t have much strength as we had banked on the Akali Dal in the state. Amarinder can add some strength during the upcoming polls if he joins us,” a BJP general secretary said.
The Shiromani Akali Dal, a long-time ally of the BJP, snapped ties last year over the farm laws.
BJP insiders said Amarinder being an old guard, had good relations with many senior party leaders. Amarinder, old-timers said, had a close relationship with late Arun Jaitley.
“I don’t know about his equations with Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi or Amit Shah but he had been meeting both of them as chief minister,” one BJP leader said.
“His (Amarinder’s) deep dislike for Sidhu, however, can take him to any extent,” the leader added, hoping that Amarinder would try to join the BJP to strike back at Sidhu and also the new Congress leadership of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.