Amarinder Singh To Form New Party, Navjot Sidhu’s Prompt “BJP Loyal” Jibe

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Amarinder Singh said he will form a new party ahead of Punjab polls.

Highlights

  • “I will form political party in Punjab,” Amarinder Singh said
  • He said that his party will look for a seat-sharing arrangement with BJP
  • He supported Centre’s move to expand jurisdiction of BSF in Punjab

Chandigarh/New Delhi:

Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has announced that he will form a new political party in Punjab ahead of the elections in the state next year. “We have many many leaders with us, it’ll be revealed who is with us once the party is announced,” he said on Wednesday in a press conference. He said that the new party will contest on all 117 assembly seats in Punjab and that he has applied for a party name and a symbol, and an announcement will be made after the Election Commission’s approval.

On an alliance with the BJP, Mr Singh said that his party will provide “issue-based” support and look for a seat-sharing arrangement given that the ongoing farmers’ protest against the three new farm laws was resolved in their interest. “I never said that I will align with the BJP. All I said was that I, my party, will look for a seat-sharing agreement,” he said. Reiterating his statement from last month on aligning with like-minded parties, he added that he would try to put together a “united front” to defeat “Akalis, Aam Aadmi Party, and Congress”. 

Mr Singh presented a manifesto listing his achievements as the chief minister of Punjab for the last 4.5 years. He claimed that he has finished 92 percent of what he had promised while campaigning during the 2017 assembly elections. Mr Singh had to resign as the chief minister after a dramatic rebellion by Congress leaders in the state who had been critical of him for allegedly not acting on pre-poll promises that propelled the part’s victory in the state. He was replaced by Charanjit Singh Channi. “I do not want to name any minister, but what are they talking about. We have completed the 18-point agenda that we set out for,” he said.

Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has constantly been at loggerheads with Mr Singh, attacked him immediately after the announcement in a strongly worded tweet. “We the 78 MLAs of Congress, could never imagine, what we received an arm-twisted, ED controlled BJP loyal Chief Minister of Punjab  @capt_amarinder… who sold the interests of Punjab to save his skin. You were the negative force stalling Justice & development of Punjab,” he said. 

Mr Sidhu also accused Mr Singh of trying to edge him out of the party as he was “raising the voice of the people” and speaking “truth to power”. He said that the former chief minister “compromised on the interests of Punjab” and that the people of the state would “punish him” for it.

Reacting to Mr Sidhu’s critical tweets, Mr Singh said that the state Congress chief “knew nothing” and “just talks on tweets”. 

The former Chief Minister had supported the Centre’s move to expand the jurisdiction of the Border Security Forces (BSF) in Punjab which has triggered a debate on federalism and state autonomy. He said that his “basic training” is that of a soldier and that he has been actively involved in “safety and intelligence issues” in the state as Chief Minister for 9.5 years.

“The security forces are professional and are there for our security. They are in no way a threat to the government, nor are they taking over the government in Punjab, so let them do their duty and protect the state and the citizens of India,” he said.

On the contentious farm laws, he said that he was discussing the issue with the Union Home Minister and when a solution comes up “it will be revealed”. He also said that the issue was between the farmers and the government. In what appears to be a response to allegations of him not acting strongly in the Sacrilege case, he said that the issue was in the court and he “can’t dictate who is guilty, who is not”.

Mr Singh said he didn’t want the state to go through a “turbulent time” as it has in the past. On border security, he warned of drones “dropping weapons, ammunition, and narcotics”. He claimed that underground tunnels have also been found in Punjab. “These drones are Chinese drones – their range and payload capacity is increasing by the day. That day may not be far when these drones can reach and drop the payload as far as Chandigarh. One can never take a risk,” he added. Attacking Congress leaders on the issue, he said that it was “irresponsible” of them to say that “everything is okay” when there are “ISI sleeper cells and Khalistanis” involved in drone droppings. 

The former Chief Minister has left directly for Delhi after the press conference where he is scheduled to meet Home Minister Amit Shah tomorrow. 





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