North India

"Stop Talking About Secularism": Amarinder Singh Blasts Congress

October 22, 2021 04:27 PM

New Delhi: Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, on brink of an alliance with the BJP and breakaway Akali groups, today ripped into the Congress, his party of more than 40 years. The Congress, he said, is no one to talk of secularism, pointing to the alliance with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra, and induction of multiple leaders from the BJP and its mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, including the current state Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu.

Most of his outburst was directed at Harish Rawat -- the Congress in-charge of Punjab, who called Mr Singh's announcement of Tuesday shocking and said it appeared that he had "killed the secular Amarinder within him".

"Stop talking about secularism @harishrawatcmuk ji. Don't forget @INCIndia took in @sherryontopp after he was with @BJP4India for 14 years. And where did Nana Patole and Revnath Reddy come from if not RSS? And Pargat Singh was with @Akali_Dal_ for 4 years!" tweeted Raveen Thukral, the former Chief Minister's media advisor, quoting him.

'And what are you doing with @ShivsenaComms in Maharashtra? Or are you saying @harishrawatcmuk Ji that it's ok to join forces with so-called communal parties as long as it suits @INCIndia purpose. What's this if not sheer political opportunism?': @capt_amarinder 2/4

Reminding the party of his poll winning streak since 2017, Mr Singh -- one of Congress's tallest leaders in Punjab, who claimed he was "humiliated" by the party -- said the party damaged its own interests in the state by putting itself in the hands of "an unstable person like Navjot Singh Sidhu who is only loyal to himself".

Navjot Singh Sidhu, who accused Mr Singh of being an architect of farm laws and benefiting a few corporates, wasn't spared either.

Mr Singh's announcement that he will form a new political party and consider an alignment with the BJP and Akali breakaway groups, has been met by an "I told you so" stance from various Congress leaders.

While the current Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa called him an "opportunist", cabinet minister Pargat Singh said, "I had already said that the Captain is allied with BJP and Akali Dal, he used to get his agenda from the BJP".

Harish Rawat said Amarinder Singh should go to the BJP if he wished.

"If he (Amarinder Singh) wants to eat crow and go with BJP, he can. Who can stop him if he can't stay with his old commitment to secularism? He was considered a symbol of 'Sarvdharm Sambhav' and was connected to Congress' traditions for a long time," Mr Rawat had said.

"Who can forgive BJP that has kept farmers at the borders for 10 months? Can Punjab forgive them for the manner in which farmers' agitation has been dealt with? His statement is really shocking. It seems he has killed the 'secular Amarinder' within him," he added.

Mr Singh – who stepped down from the top post in Punjab in September after a bitter, yearlong festering feud with Navjot Sidhu and a section of MLAs – has said his alliance with the BJP will depend on the resolution of the farmers' protest.

Before making the announcement, he had also met Union Home Minister Amit Shah and amid a resulting buzz of his changing camp, declared that they had discussed farmers' grouses.

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