The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday said that it was open to an alliance with former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, PTI reported. The party’s general secretary and leader in charge of Punjab Dushyant Gautam said that Singh was a “patriot” and the BJP was open to alliances with “nationalist forces”.

His comments came a day after Singh said that he will soon launch his own party and that he was hopeful about a seat arrangement with the BJP for the Punjab Assembly elections, slated to take place next year. Singh said that he would tie-up with the BJP if the contentions over the Centre’s new agriculture laws are resolved.

Singh had stepped down as Punjab chief minister on September 18 amid a tussle with Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu. On September 30, he had said that he will quit the Congress as he felt “humiliated” by the leadership that had replaced him with Charanjeet Singh Channi. At that time, Singh had declared said he will not join the BJP.

On Wednesday, Gautam weighed in that Singh, in his statement on Tuesday, had not spoken about ending the farmers’ agitation against the agriculture laws.

“He [Singh] talked about farmers’ issues...We are committed to it and are working for the welfare of farmers,” the BJP leader said, according to The Hindu. “If the time comes, both will sit together and discuss farmers’ issues.”

Gautam pointed out that Singh had served in the Army and so he was aware about the “threats to the country and how to secure it”. Gautam added that nationalists were not “untouchables” for the BJP.

“Our main agenda is nationalism and keeping the nation first,” the Punjab in-charge said. “All those parties who want to form alliances with us on this agenda are welcome.”

Singh had met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on September 29, setting off speculation about him joining the saffron party. However, Singh’s media advisor Raveen Thukral had rejected the rumours and said that the two leaders had discussed the farmers’ agitation and other matters.

On Tuesday, Thukral said Singh will work towards forming alliances with like-minded parties, including breakaway Akali Dal groups.