Will quit Congress, but won’t join BJP, says Amarinder Singh
Amarinder Singh on Thursday said he would quit the Congress but would not join the BJP, hinting in the process that he was exploring the possibility of floating his own political outfit to hit back at his detractors.
“I have not resigned from the Congress, but I will resign. I am not a person who makes split-second decisions. But I am not joining the BJP,” Amarinder told NDTV on Thursday.
The former Punjab chief minister met Union home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday evening and national security adviser Ajit Doval on Thursday.
The prolonged farmers’ protest spearheaded by Punjab farmers appears to have come in the way of Amarinder joining the BJP. The fear of incurring voter anger seemed to have constrained the veteran leader from directly joining the BJP and led him to explore other options.
Amarinder stressed that the way he had been treated by the Congress, there was no way he could continue. He said “another force” could emerge in the poll-bound state.
“This election will be very different with the Congress, AAP, Akaki Dal, factions of the Akali Dal, and there may be another force coming up too.… So it will be a very different election,” Amarinder said, refusing to disclose anything more.
The 79-year-old leader gave out hints that he could have discussed his future political options with Shah and was still in the process of making up his mind.
“Look, I don’t have much to gain. I will be turning 80 next year. But I want my state to be secure. I don’t want Pakistan’s influence due to misgovernance or non governance...,” he said, stressing that his meetings with Shah and Doval were focussed on the security of Punjab and the farmers’ agitation.
Amarinder said Pakistan was using drones to push arms and drugs into Punjab and that he discussed the issue with Doval.
The BJP has an unofficial retirement policy of 75 years and therefore could be eyeing to use Amarinder indirectly.
Traditionally, the BJP in Punjab had appealed to the Hindus while its estranged ally Akali Dal represented the majority Sikhs. The BJP had depended on the Akalis and now with the parting of ways it could look for help from Amarinder.
The former chief minister said he discussed the farmers’ agitation with Shah, stressing that it should be resolved, again claiming that the prolonged protest could endanger the security of Punjab and in turn the country.
“Some solution has to be found. This (farmers’ protest) cannot continue indefinitely. I am worried that the prolonged protests could lead to internal disturbances in Punjab,” he said.
BJP insiders said Amarinder was trying to take the lead in resolving the farmers’ issue so that he can gain the sympathy of the Sikh voters and in turn aid the BJP.
Dwelling in detail on his “humiliation” in the Congress, he said: “At 10.30am the Congress president says you resign. I didn’t ask any questions. I said I would do it just now. I went to the governor’s house at 4pm and resigned.”
“I have made my stand very clear to the Congress that I will not be treated in this manner.… When there is no trust one cannot continue,” Amarinder added.
He slammed Navjot Singh Sidhu, saying he was “incapable”, and also took digs at Rahul Gandhi.
“He (Rahul) wants to bring young blood in the party but refuses to listen to the advice of the older party leaders,” Amarinder said, predicting doom for the party in upcoming polls.
He claimed a survey done by the Congress between July and September this year had shown that the AAP was going up and the Congress down with a decline of 20 per cent.