As the Congress slugs it out against the Narendra Modi government by staging dharnas outside the Lok Sabha, its deputy leader in the lower house Captain Amarinder Singh has skipped the monsoon session so far. The former Punjab chief minister contends he is doing something more important back home.
"How many days has the Lok Sabha worked? There is no activity taking place inside Parliament. I had two options - either to sit outside it and stage a dharna or mobilise my partymen and people of Punjab. Which is better? For me working in Punjab is better than sitting in a dharna outside Lok Sabha," the former chief minister told HT.
He, however, was quick to add that issues the Congress was protesting against were not wrong."The party is right in demanding resignations of tainted ministers and CMs of the BJP. But there has been zero activity inside Parliament while I have held over a dozen rallies in Punjab, which had not seen any mobilisation of party workers and people by the Congress in the last almost one year. Whatever public meetings were held were drawing crowd of 40-60 people. Mine are drawing crowds of 25,000 people," says Amarinder targeting rallies of Punjab Congress chief Partap Bajwa.
The Amritsar MP is non-commital on whether he would attend the Lok Sabha session before it concludes. "I can't say if I will attend the session. When my party president Sonia Gandhi had asked me to contest against Arun Jaitley from Amritsar in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, I told her "I will do what you will ask me to do but I am not interested in sitting in Delhi." Since 1984, when I had quit as Lok Sabha MP over Operation Bluestar, Punjab has been my only interest," he adds.
Though Amarinder has been flexing his muscle through a show of strength in Punjab, the Congress high command has not heeded to his demand for change of guard.
On speculations that he is quitting the Congress to float his own party or joining another, Captain attributes these to his detractors, who, he says, were not too happy by the response to his programme. "All my rallies are under the Congress banner," he says.
Interestingly, while Amarinder explains his absence from session owing to "no work" inside Parliament, his attendance record, in earlier sessions of the Lok Sabha and even in Punjab assembly as an MLA, has always been dismal. He is also busy giving final touches to his book on 1965 war which releases next month to mark 50th anniversary of the war.