Amarinder likely to launch Punjab Lok Congress today
Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh is on Wednesday likely to launch a new political party, the Punjab Lok Congress, according to people familiar with the developments.
A formal announcement is expected at a media conference called by the two-time former CM in Chandigarh.
“The event will be telecast live on his Facebook page. Do tune in,” Singh’s media adviser Raveen Thukral tweeted on Tuesday morning, extending an invite to the media. Lt General TS Shergill (retd), who was senior adviser to CM, is set to be made an office-bearer in the new outfit.
A week ago, Singh said that he planned to soon announce the launch of his political party and was hopeful of a seat arrangement with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) if the farmers’ issue was resolved. “The battle for Punjab’s future is on. Will soon announce the launch of my own political party to serve the interests of Punjab and its people, including our farmers who have been fighting for their survival for over a year,” his media adviser quoted by him as saying on Twitter on October 19.
The former CM is also tentatively scheduled to meet Union home minister Amit Shah in Delhi on Thursday to discuss the way forward to find an amicable solution to the stir, a person privy to his efforts in this direction. Those expected to accompany include three-four state leaders and farm experts. The Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) has denied being part of any such effort.
Singh, who is still to formally quit the Congress, was camping in Delhi last week and held detailed consultations with his supporters in the party. However, some of them are learnt to have advised him to float the separate outfit and reach an agreement with the BJP only after a resolution has been to the ongoing imbroglio over the three farm laws. He was made to resign as the chief minister on September 18 following months turbulence and tussle in the state unit during which Navjot Sidhu, who was appointed the state Congress president despite Singh’s objections, and several ministers and legislators rebelled against him. The Congress later picked Charanjit Singh Channi as the chief minister.
Ashutosh Kumar, professor of political science, Panjab University, said: “This (launch of new party) was on the cards from the time he announced he will quit the Congress. The main aim appears to be to dent the Congress. Though his next step will be to have an arrangement with the BJP as he has already indicated, the farmers’ protest will be a tricky issue...”
A big mistake, says deputy CM Randhawa
Deputy chief minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, who had rebelled against Capt Amarinder and has been targeting him over his friendship with Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam, said that no one can be stopped from charting his own political course, to stay in the party (Congress) or leave it.
“Whether he is doing it because the BJP has asked him to or of his own accord, it will be a big mistake,” Randhawa said, questioning his (Singh’s) decision to leave the party that had given him so much. He said the former CM’s exit will not dent the Congress in any way. “If he had so much sway, then he would have continued as CM,” the deputy chief minister added.
Capt accuses opponents of threatening supporters
Amarinder on Tuesday accused his detractors in the Congress of threatening and harassing his supporters in Patiala and elsewhere.
Singh, who was made to resign as the Punjab CM in September following months of tussle and turbulence in the state Congress, told them that they cannot defeat him with such low-level political games. “From personal attacks they’ve now stooped to threats and harassment of my supporters in Patiala and elsewhere. Let me tell my rivals they can’t defeat me with such low-level political games. They will neither win votes nor people’s hearts with such tactics,” the former CM’s media adviser Raveen Thukral quoted him as saying on Twitter.
Singh further said that those who have stood by him have so because they believe in and want to continue working for peace and development in the state. “They will not be scared away by such petty acts of intimidation or persecution. We will continue to fight for Punjab’s future,” he added.