Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday criticised the Congress hours after party leader Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that 78 of 79 party MLAs had sought his removal from the post.

“Preposterous lies being floated by various party leaders in a clear bid to cover up their mishandling of the crisis in the party,” Singh said, according to a statement shared by his media advisor Raveen Thukral on Twitter.

The chief minister said that the Congress’ in-charge for Punjab, Harish Rawat, had on Friday said that 43 Punjab Congress MLAs had written to the party leadership seeking Singh’s ouster.

“It seems the entire party has become imbued with Navjot Singh Sidhu’s sense of comic theatrics,” Singh said. “Next, they will claim that 117 MLAs wrote to them against me.”

Singh flagged the “conflicting numbers” shared by Surjewala and Rawat. He described a purported letter received by the Congress central leadership expressing lack of confidence against him as “a comedy of errors”.

Singh had stepped down as the chief minister on Monday amid a tussle with Sidhu. On Thursday, he said he will quit the Congress party as he felt “humiliated” by the leadership that had replaced him with Charanjeet Singh Channi.

In his statement, Singh said the Congress leaders cannot even “coordinate their lies properly”. He rejected the charges that he had lost the confidence of the MLAs.

“The Congress was in a total state of disarray, and the crisis seemed to be escalating by the day, with a large majority of its senior leaders completely disenchanted with the party’s functioning,” the former chief minister said. “The fact of the matter was that the 43-odd MLAs who had signed the said letter had been forced to do so under duress.”

Earlier on Saturday, Surjewala said that when any chief minister loses the confidence of all of his MLAs, he should not continue with the post, PTI reported.

“Had we not changed the CM, you would have accused us of being a dictator,” he said. “Seventy-eight MLAs are on one side and a CM is on the other side and you are not listening to them.”

Surjewala added, “Sonia Gandhi is the president of the Congress party and the decision on changing the CM in Punjab was not taken by her. As I told you, 78 MLAs had written and then we changed the CM.”

Sidhu supports Congress

Meanwhile, Sidhu on Saturday said that he will stand by Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra irrespective of whether he holds any post.

Sidhu made the comments four days after he resigned as the chief of the party’s state unit. However, the Congress did not accept his resignation and Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi held talks with him on Thursday afternoon.

After the meeting, multiple reports suggested that Sidhu is likely to continue as the Congress’ state unit.

A formal announcement on the matter is likely to be made on October 4 after Channi discusses certain objections raised by Sidhu at a Cabinet meeting.

Sidhu has reportedly been upset about changes made to the Punjab Cabinet and appointments to the state administration.

On Wednesday, party leaders said that Sidhu was disappointed after Sukhjinder Randhawa was given the home portfolio and made the deputy chief minister.

Sidhu was also upset about the inclusion of Rana Gurjit Singh in the Punjab Cabinet. He was accused in a sand mining scam, following which he quit former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s Cabinet in 2018.