New Delhi: Ending the suspense about his next political move, Punjab’s former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh has disclosed that he will form his own political party, which is likely to forge a pre-poll alliance with the BJP, splinter groups of the Akalis, and will reach out to the farmers for the forthcoming assembly elections in the state next year. He has also hinted that the prolonged farmers’ agitation over three central farm laws may be heading towards a resolution soon, with the government holding talks with their representatives. His decision on accepting BJP as partner would depend on a satisfactory resolution of the farm laws issue.
In a freewheeling conversation with Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta at ThePrint Off the Cuff, Amarinder said apart from the BJP, he was looking at an alliance with the breakaway faction of the Shiromani Akali Dal, especially the Dhindsa and Brahmpura faction, for the elections, due early next year. Asked if he would have any ideological qualms about joining hands with the BJP, Amarinder responded in the negative, saying he stood “for Punjab”.
He said he was “looking forward to fighting” and his target was to “form the government”.
This is the first time Amarinder, who was unceremoniously ousted as Punjab CM by the Congress high command last month, has made his future plans clear. He had already announced he would be leaving the Congress, and met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval last month, triggering speculation about his joining the BJP, which he had clarified he wouldn’t be doing. He reiterated this, but now said he would “like an alliance” with the BJP, and does not consider it a communal and anti-Muslim party. Do you see any problem in Punjab between the Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus, he asked.
“Before the farmers’ issue, this was not a problem in Punjab (against the Narendra Modi government),” he said, hinting that a solution to the farmers’ agitation will be a precursor to his tying up with it. He also revealed that efforts are on to find this solution.
The full conversation with be telecast on ThePrint’s YouTube channel Wednesday, 20 October, at 8 pm.
‘No sacrilege’ in Singhu lynching case
Talking about the lynching of a Dalit man from Tarn Taran at the Singhu border between Delhi and Haryana, allegedly by Nihangs, Amarinder said it was a “terrible, awful tragedy”.
“I don’t believe that he was doing be-adbi or sacrilege because there were too many people. The person who did it (killed him) was in a frame of mind he could not control. He could have been intoxicated. Nihangs are known to take ‘sukha’ (a form of intoxication),” he said, the first prominent Punjab politician to take this line.
Asked if Punjab is on the verge of witnessing a revival of militancy, Amarinder said he had been flagging the issue for three years. He said Punjab was being “weaponised” through ISI and Khalistani sleeper cells, but the quantum of weapons coming in now was “disturbing”. He also pointed to the problem of drone technology being used to carry AK-47s, pistols, grenades, drugs and cash.
“My state is a frontline state with a 600-km-long border. Someone is planning something which we don’t know and that worries me. I met the NSA (Doval) over these issues,” he said.
This, he said, is among the prime reasons he wants the farmers’ agitation to end — so that the bitterness doesn’t turn young people into “recruits”.
(Edited by Shreyas Sharma)