Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday said that the Congress has damaged its interests in the state by not trusting him and handing over the responsibility of the party to “unstable” Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Singh made the remarks two days after announcing that he will soon launch his own party and was hopeful about reaching a seat arrangement with the Bharatiya Janata Party for the Punjab Assembly elections, which are scheduled to take place early next year. Singh had resigned as the chief minister in September.
After the announcement, Congress leader Harish Rawat had said that Singh seemed to have “killed the secular Amarinder within himself”, ANI reported.
Responding to Rawat on Thursday, Singh said: “Stop talking about secularism Harish Rawat ji. Don’t forget Congress took in Navjot Singh Sidhu after he was with BJP for 14 years.”
The former Punjab chief minister pointed out that the Congress was in an alliance with the Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
“Are you saying Harish Rawat ji that it’s ok to join forces with so-called communal parties as long as it suits Congress’ purpose?” Singh’s media advisor quoted him as saying. “What’s this if not sheer political opportunism?”
Singh also responded to accusations that he had been helping the Shiromani Akali Dal for over four years.
“Is that why you [Rawat] think I have been fighting court cases against them for the last 10 years?” Singh asked. “And why I have won Congress all elections in Punjab since 2017?”
Meanwhile, Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal claimed Singh had a “deal” with the BJP, ANI reported.
“The extent to which Captain [Singh] sahab compromised with BJP became very clear when cases of black money in Swiss Bank accounts and ED [Enforcement Directorate] and IT [Income Tax] cases [against him] were brushed under the carpet when he became the CM,” she added.
Singh vs Sidhu on farm laws
Singh also argued with Sidhu on Twitter about the three agricultural laws, which have triggered massive farmers’ protest in the country.
Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at Delhi’s border entry points since November 2020, seeking the withdrawal of the farm laws passed last September. Farmers fear that the laws will bring about corporate dominance of the agricultural sector.
Sidhu on Wednesday tweeted an old video of Singh, in which he spoke about roping in businessman Mukesh Ambani for an agricultural initiative in Punjab.
“The architect of three black laws...who brought Ambani to Punjab’s kisani [farming]...Who destroyed Punjab’s farmers, small traders and labour for benefiting one-two big corporates,” Sidhu said, referring to Singh.
Singh responded by describing Sidhu as a “fraud and cheat”. “You are trying to pass off my 15-year-old crop diversification initiative as connected with farms laws, against which I am still fighting and with which I have linked my own political future,” Singh said.