At meeting with Amit Shah, Amarinder Singh says he discussed farm laws

Former Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh’s meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah fuelled speculation that the veteran Congress leader who had to quit his post in Punjab could join the BJP or float a new party.
Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh met Union home minister Amit Shah at his residence on Wednesday. (File Photo) (Twitter/@RT_Media_Capt)
Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh met Union home minister Amit Shah at his residence on Wednesday. (File Photo) (Twitter/@RT_Media_Capt)
Updated on Sep 29, 2021 09:30 PM IST
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NEW DELHI: Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh called on Union home minister Amit Shah at his residence in national capital Delhi on Wednesday. The two met for a little less than an hour.

The meeting stoked speculation that the former Punjab chief minister could join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) or float a separate party that would seek support from the ruling party at the Centre. BJP leaders have refused to speak about the details of the hush-hush meeting.

Captain Amarinder Singh’s aide Raveen Thukral, who on Tuesday rebutted reports that the former chief minister could meet BJP leaders on his Delhi visit and insisted that Singh was on a personal visit, tweeted on Wednesday evening that the two leaders discussed the three farm laws and other issues related to farmers.

Singh tweeted soon after on his meeting.

“Met Union Home Minister @AmitShah ji in Delhi. Discussed the prolonged farmers’ agitation against #FarmLaws & urged him to resolve the crisis urgently with repeal of the laws & guarantee MSP, besides supporting Punjab in crop diversification. #NoFarmersNoFood,” the former chief minister said on Twitter.

The former chief minister’s meeting with Shah was being closely watched as it comes close on the heels of dramatic developments in the poll-bound state. After Singh stepped down as the chief minister last week, his bete noire and the Punjab unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu also stepped down from his position.

The meeting also comes in the backdrop of the ongoing farmers’ stir demanding a rollback of the farm laws.

“There is a section of BJP leaders both at the Centre and in the state who are keen on the former chief minister joining the party. As a Jat Sikh face, a long-standing CM, they feel he has clout with the electorate and can be useful in helping work out a truce between the government and the farmers who are unrelenting from their position of seeking a role back of the farm laws,” said a BJP functionary.

On whether a role has been envisaged for the former chief minister to negotiate with the farmers on behalf of the government, the functionary said, “Nothing has been finalised.”

The former CM’s public criticism of the Gandhi siblings — he described former president Rahul Gandhi and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi as “inexperienced” — have given ammunition to the BJP to aim at the Gandhi family.

“The party has humiliated a tall leader and the message is undoubtedly going to ring loud and clear on the ground,” the functionary quoted above said.

However, other leaders who spoke to HT on the condition of anonymity said the “age factor” will be a key consideration. “In the past, a lot of people who were welcomed into the party fold were picked on criteria such as winnability, age and their popularity,” said a second functionary.

The BJP follows an unwritten rule of not giving positions of responsibility to those above 75 years of age. It made an exception in the case of BS Yediyurappa but recently replaced the 78-year-old warhorse with BS Bommai, 61. Captain Amarinder Singh is 79.

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    Smriti covers an intersection of politics and governance. Having spent over a decade in journalism, she combines old fashioned leg work with modern story telling tools.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022