It is new-found love between old foes. At daggers drawn till around six months ago, Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal and former Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh are now exchanging compliments, courtesy the new adversary on the block Partap Singh Bajwa - who was elevated to the PCC president's post in March.
For politics' sake, the mutual admiration is tinged with sarcasm. Rating Amarinder better than Bajwa, Sukhbir had said that the latter's statements didn't reflect maturity. "He makes irresponsible statements. Bajwa has no agenda, vision or mission. He has crossed Amarinder, too, in talking rubbish," Sukhbir had said at HT Leaderspeak.
During an interview to a regional news channel, Amarinder on Monday lavished praise on "younger and more dynamic" Sukhbir. When contacted, the former CM made it clear that it was said in the context of a question on his relations with the deputy CM. "I said I have known the father (chief minister Parkash Singh Badal) more than the son. The CM is a liar. He never intends to do what he says. Unlike him, Sukhbir has a modern mind and he only says what he intends to do. The father is happy doling out grants at sangat darshans, while Sukhbir is handling most of the departments," Amarinder said. He, too, directed a barb at Sukhbir. "But with an MBA (degree) and a business-like approach of Sukhbir, why is there such a mess in Punjab? The finances are bad and the state is going down each year of their rule," he added.
Last month, Sukhbir's brother-in-law, revenue and public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia ensured enough publicity for his photo-op with Amarinder's son Raninder Singh at a shooting tournament in Patiala. The two were seen walking arm-in-arm and exchanged hugs. In March, Raninder had trumped Majithia in the National Rifle Association of India polls.
Political observers think Badal is not too happy about the new political equations as he considers Bajwa a "safer" political adversary. His uneasiness was reflected during the just-concluded assembly session when despite Majithia leading the charge with Sukhbir's backing against the Bajwa brothers for their land deals, the CM was seen dithering on ordering an inquiry.
Badal, while replying to mediapersons, had said that the chorus for an inquiry was coming more from Bajwa's detractors within the Congress and he did not believe in vendetta politics. Bajwa loyalists are attributing the "new-found proximity" to court cases against Amarinder. Old tricks may more new friendships in the run-up to Lok Sabha polls.
'Bajwa wrong in calling parallel CLP meeting'
Amarinder hit out at Bajwa for calling a parallel meeting of the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) before the assembly session. Stating that it was the domain of CLP leader Sunil Jakhar, the Captain said inviting 10-odd MLAs to decide issues and strategy for the session reflected Bajwa's "inexperience". "Every MLA has the right to be part of the CLP meeting and I, too, attended the CLP meeting as an MLA during my stint as PPCC president.
Bajwa's land deals:
It is Bajwa's personal business and he has to explain it to the government and the people of Punjab.
Parallel tour on:
I will visit Balachaur this week. Then it would be Ferozepur on November 13.