Saturday, October 23, 2021

Gujarat happens in Punjab with a difference

  • Capt. Amarinder Singh quits as Punjab CM
  • He was asked to resign by party high command
  • While Rupani left the throne without rancor, Capt. Amarinder Singh is very expressive
  • Captain say he would chose his options when the time comes
  • CLP leavers the decision to Sonia Gandhi
  • Harish Rawat convenes CLP meeting where Capt. Amarinder was absent.

What BJP could do with finesse in Gujarat, the Congress did it roughly in Punjab. Both the national parties had changed the chief ministers in respective States. But a ruckus was created in Punjab with the outgoing chief minister publicly giving vent to his anger and frustration suggesting that he would not remain in the Congress but choose his option very soon. Vijay Rupani, the outgoing chief minister of Gujarat, in contrast, had proposed the name of the incoming CM Bhupendra Patel. The BJP which in power both in Gandhi Nagar and Delhi could assert itself which the Congress which is not in power at the Centre appeared dillydallying in case of Punjab. But finally it clinched the issue. Whether the decision was taken by Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi, it appears to be a correct one going by the mood of the Congress legislature party. The captain who forte was his popularity with the common people had of late lost the touch.

Captain Amarinder Singh resigned as Punjab Chief Minister on Saturday, a few months before elections to the assembly, saying that he has been humiliated thrice and he could not stand insults any longer. He said he had told to the Congress president Sonia Gandhi that he would rather go out of the party than suffer humiliation. The captain who was chief minister for nine years is known for his independent nature and he annoyed the party high command on several occasions in the past with his decisions. He was known as ‘People’s Maharaja’ in keeping with the title of his biography. After submitting his resignation to the governor, Captain Amarinder Singh said he would consult his supporters and he “would exercise his options when the time comes.” He said the high command is “free to appoint whoever they trust.” The captain said he would consult the people who have been supporting him for 52 years in politics.

As is the tradition, the Punjab Congress MLAs who met on Saturday evening had requested Sonia Gandhi to select the new chief minister. Harish Rawat, the high command emissary and former chief minister of Uttarakhand, said the party president might take a decision very soon. Observers say that the CLP had already taken a decision but it is customary in the Congress that the party chief would announce the name of the new chief minister.

Capt. Amarinder Singh who kept out of the CLP meeting called his bête noire Navjot Singh Sidhu  an unstable person. The captain and the cricketer have not been getting on well right from the day Rahul Gandhi admitted Siddu into the Congress just before the 2017 elections. Sidhu was promised deputy chief minister’s position but Amarinder did not accommodate him.  The captain has been close to the Gandhi-Nehru family. He studied in Doon School along with Rajiv Gandhi and used to spend holidays with Rajiv at the residence of the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. He did a three years stint in Punjab Regiment of Indian Army after studying at National Defence Academy. He joined the Congress at the invitation of Rajiv Gandhi when the latter was the party’s General Secretary in early 1980s. When Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent armed forces to the Golden Temple, the captain left the Congress and joined the Akali Dal. He could not get on with Akali leaders. He left the party to float his own brand of Akali Dal which utterly failed in 1989 elections. He returned to the Congress and became chief minister of Punjab for the first time in 2002 and continued till the end of his term in 2007 and then got elected again in 2017. He is almost 80 now.

There are three names making rounds for the post of Punjab chief minister. Former PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar, Pratap Singh Bajwa and Ravneet Singh, the grandson of Beant Singh who was the chief minister killed by separatists during the Khalistan movement.      

K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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