Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s announcement to float a new party and ally with the BJP has set tongues wagging about his intentions ahead of the 2022 assembly election.
Many in the Congress believe that Captain is trying to woo Hindus in urban areas, who make up close to 38 per cent of the Punjab population. His “anti-Pakistan” plank about security threats and cross-border terrorism is being seen as a way of trying to turn a large chunk of Hindu voters away from the Congress.
According to a report in Times of India, Congress sources believe that Amarinder was looking to polarise Hindu voters against the party by focusing on Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Pakistan visit and his embrace of the Pakistani army chief. The ousted chief minister has been referring to Sidhu’s Pakistan visit for quite some time now, the report quoted sources as saying.
According to the Congress, this plainly shows what the party has suspected for a long time: Amarinder, even as Punjab CM, was “in league” with the BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal in influencing the Hindu demographic in Punjab.
This was also reflected in Amarinder’s reaction to the recent amendment in jurisdiction rules for the BSF. The BSF has been given powers of search, seizure and arrest, at par with their police counterparts, deep into Punjab. While newly appointed chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi opposed the move, Captain supported it.
Tweeting on his behalf, his media adviser had said: “Our soldiers are being killed in Kashmir. We’re seeing more & more weapons & drugs being pushed by Pak-backed terrorists into Punjab. BSF’s enhanced presence & powers will only make us stronger. Let’s not drag central armed forces into politics.”
The Congress had denounced his support for the move with cabinet minister Pargat Singh saying it showed Amarinder was “hand-in-glove” with the BJP-ruled central government.
This is perhaps why the Congress has taken much pain in highlighting Captain’s so-called “Pakistan connection” over the past few days. The personal attacks against him with regard to his long-time friend and Pakistani journalist Aroosa Alam have resulted in much mudslinging between the two sides.
It started with deputy CM Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa saying the Punjab government had ordered a probe into Alam’s links with the ISI. Former MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu also slammed Captain for his connection to Alam, making allegations that postings in Punjab Police did not happen without giving gifts or money to the Pakistani journalist.
With inputs from News18