‘Planned to quit Cong, form own party before return as Punjab unit chief’

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jun 27, 2016 21:47 IST
Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh. (HT File Photo)

Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said he was on the verge of quitting the Congress and forming his own party last year, the time when he was locked in an intra-party tussle to get back the state unit chair from Partap Singh Bajwa. In an interview to a TV channel, he said he told party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi that “if you don’t need me, let me fight my own battle”. He added, “Rahul told me that then both of us will lose, and I said, ‘so be it’.”

He said it wasn’t blackmail, “but some days later I was called and told that you (Amarinder) had to take over the party (in Punjab)”. Asked what he was frustrated, he said he did not think nobody could replace him ever: “But, yes, I thought that particular person (Bajwa) could not do it.”

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Even as the assembly polls in Punjab are due early next year, he commented that in the Congress, “the ground realities in Punjab are not understood in Delhi”. “This is why I keep saying... you (Congress) are up against regional parties now, and if you want to tackle [them], then regional leaders of the Congress have to be given more powers.” He went on to add to a follow-up question: “Let’s say, we are not given enough freedom, not power... We don’t want power.”

On the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, he said there was a need for a time-bound probe by a high-powered committee. “Justice has not been done (in the 1984 riots cases),” he said.

While he dismissed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as “incapable” of defeating the SAD-BJP combine, he also compared Delhi chief minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal with Donald Trump, the business tycoon who is the Republican nominee for the US Presidential elections: “I think they both talk a lot of nonsense.”

He also said that this (2017) was his last election. “I think time has come for a new generation... If we are victorious, then by the time five-year (term) is over, I will be 80.” Asked if he was young at heart, he said, “At heart? 30 or 40!”

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