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Congress didn’t buy weapons, but today nation secure, says Amarinder Singh after joining BJP

The former Congress chief minister said Punjab has suffered as a border state for decades, and that he needed to join a party that could stand up to hostile neighbours.

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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party has fortified India’s defence and safety under its tenure, former Congress leader Amarinder Singh claimed Monday as he formally joined the ruling party and merged his Punjab Lok Congress with it.

At an interaction with the media, Singh chided A.K. Antony — his former colleague and defence minister during the Congress-led UPA’s national tenure – for not purchasing a single weapon in his four terms in office.

Singh said: “Unfortunately China is way ahead of us in weaponry. It is our fault. It is the fault of the Congress party… let me tell you quite clearly I am not doing it because I am no longer in the Congress but I am doing it because I don’t think in the four terms that Mr Antony was there, even one type of weapon was ever purchased for the Army or the Air Force or the Navy.”

“So, we have Pakistan on one side, and China is not too far from us. We are hemmed in by two borders, two hostile nations — one China and one Pakistan. We are the ones who are going to suffer. It is therefore our duty to protect our country and to protect our own state. If we don’t do it, then we are not performing our responsibility,” he added.

Singh formed the Punjab Lok Congress last year, soon after exiting the Congress, after he stepped down as Punjab chief minister.

He was welcomed to the BJP by Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju and Union Minister Narender Singh Tomar. Earlier in the day, he also met BJP chief J.P. Nadda and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Seven former MLAs and one former MP joined the BJP along with Singh. Former deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly, Ajaib Singh Bhatti, also joined the BJP.

“You see many ships being (inducted) in the Indian Navy today. Whether they are destroyers… I don’t want to get into details because there’s too much of it. But the fact is that weaponry is coming and that is necessary for us to secure our nation,” he said.

“This has made many of us think about what we can do for our country and for ourselves. And if we want to do that — we have seen the Congress for many years — it is time to join a party that is looking after the interests of the country… and that is the BJP. And I am today grateful to the PM and Home Minister and the party president,” he added.

Also read: Sisodia’s wish to be arrested will be granted soon, says BJP’s Delhi in-charge Baijayant Panda

‘Have been in politics for around 52 years from a border state’

Singh also said Punjab has suffered being a border state. “I have been in politics for around 52 years from a border state. I have seen how our relationship with Pakistan has deteriorated. The attitude of Pakistan and the animosity they have put forward… we have noted it with growing dismay. We have had three wars — in 1947, the state was destroyed; Punjab was the frontline in 1965 and also in 1971, though it was a Bangladesh war. So, we have suffered all the time,” he said.

“Since then, this animosity has grown. I have brought it to the notice of the home minister and the Prime Minister about this new development which has taken place over the last four to five years – the drones.

“Drones are coming in. Initially, they could travel around 7 kilometres. But when I left the government last year, they had a range of 42 to 43 kilometres. These are bigger drones, with a larger capacity to carry. They bring weapons, narcotics, cash, and counterfeit currency to India. All is landing here. The objective is to create complete chaos in border states wherever they think it necessary,” he said.

Singh said his “local” party had grown beyond the state’s border. “Now we are localised, we are Punjab Lok Congress, but that doesn’t mean we are stuck there. We have grown across the borders, we have got workers in Himachal Pradesh, and hope to expand in Haryana,” he added.

Union Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said Singh has always held national interest above party politics. “For Captain Amarinder Singh, the nation comes first. There is no compromise on that front. We are very happy to have this merger. I welcome Captain and his people,” Tomar said while welcoming him to the BJP.

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