Call it the return of the realpolitik. After denying differences with party’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor over his meeting with expelled senior leaders Jagmeet Brar and Bir Devinder, Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday did not rule out the possibility of Devinder returning to the party fold.
Amarinder, who had last week said there was “no question of taking Bir Devinder back into the Congress”, is no more talking in absolute terms. “In politics, nothing is permanent,” the former chief minister told HT on the sidelines of a press conference here. He was replying to query if the party’s doors had been closed for Bir Devinder forever.
However, while replying to a query during the media interaction, Amarinder said he knows Devinder since latter’s days in student politics. “He has these ups and downs in terms of behaviour. He is not stable. He had no authority to open his office at Ghanaur without permission.” On whether Devinder can be brought back if he apologises, Amarinder said, “How many times can he be brought back to the party after an apology?” He also downplayed the impact on the Congress from possible coming together of Brar and Bir Devinder saying he did not think it would harm the party’s prospects.
“Brar has some problem with me. He had earlier attacked party president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi after the Lok Sabha elections. The action against him has come from the party president,” he said, adding that “let him go to the AAP or the BSP whoever takes him.”
On Prashant’s reaching out to dissidents, he said there was nothing wrong in it. “For formulating the strategy, he will need to meet all leaders. When I’m out of the country, there is no harm if others keep doing their work. Kishor takes no decision without consulting me,” he said.
The changed stance of Amarinder is following his meeting with Kishor in Delhi on Saturday wherein the latter is learnt to have explained to Amarinder that Brar and Devinder together could open yet another front for the Congress that is already locked in a triangular contest with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the AAP in Punjab. Kishor is keen to get Devinder back to blunt the possibility of the two coming together. But Devinder also enjoys proximity to some senior Congress leaders and unlike Brar is not eyeing an entry into the AAP. Unlike Brar, who was expelled by the AICC, the disciplinary action against Devinder came from Amarinder as president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) and can be reversed by him.
If Kishor’s will prevails and Devinder is taken back, it will ruffle the feathers of Amarinder loyalists who feel it will undermine Captain’s authority as the state president. “What kind of message will go down to Congress leaders and workers in Punjab? That Prashant proposes, Amarinder disposes and then endorses. It will establish Kishor as the de facto state chief who can take decisions without Captain’s approval,” a senior MLA said. But Kishor, who stays at Amarinder’s residence during his Punjab visits, may have to now keep the latter clued in on all his strategy moves, lest he ends up firefighting those he is working for.