New Delhi: Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who is set to launch his own party and is looking forward to forging an alliance with the BJP, said any discussions on seat-sharing would be held only close to polls, and for that, the union government needs to resolve the farmers’ protests first.
Singh, who had quit his post saying he was feeling ‘humiliated’, said Congress has lost ground in Punjab and making Navjot Singh Sidhu the party president created “bad blood”. He also commented on the new Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi and said he is a “good boy”.
“We will talk to BJP about the seat adjustments closer to elections. But for that to happen, the BJP must resolve farmers’ issues… If BJP resolves the farmers’ issue I have no problem with them,” Singh said in an interview to CNN-News18.
Punjab Assembly elections are scheduled to be held early next year.
Singh said he was asked by Congress President Sonia Gandhi to resign, adding that as far as the Congress is concerned, “it’s over” for him.
“I had told Sonia Gandhi that I will lead Congress in Punjab Elections…once we win…I will step down and you can choose the CM….at that time Sonia Gandhi received the letter well,” he said.
“The Congress decided that I must go so I have left the party…but I do not think I will sit at home…I can do a lot for Punjab. I was not going to sit at home…so I could either start a party or join someone else,” Singh said.
He said the Congress has “lost ground” in Punjab.
“Congress has lost ground very fast…about six months ago they were doing well…One main reason for the decline was making Sidhu the party president. Making Sidhu the state party president has created bad blood,” he said.
Singh was against making Navjot Singh Sidhu the Punjab Congress chief, and has attacked him after quitting the post as well accusing him of being a “friend of Pakistan”. After tendering his resignation, he had also expressed displeasure over a meeting of party MLAs being called by the party high command.
“I never experienced this sort of interference ever as a CM… I had a very close relation with Rajiv Gandhi…I don’t know why the family did what they did. Everything can’t be decided in Delhi,” he said.
Talking about his meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah, he said he discussed the farmers’ protests.
“There are three contentious bills… We have so many amendments…why can’t we have one for these farm laws?” he said.
“Going to SC is not a solution…Farm Laws are a political matter. Farmers want certain guarantees and protections. I met Home Minister…told him that this thing should not get out of hand,” he told CNN-News18.
The former CM also said “ISI and Khalistanis could recruit from the farmer protest”.
Talking about the new Punjab Chief Minister, Singh said, “Channi is a good boy…hardworking…but this is too little too late. CM Channi is running around all over Punjab…that is not his job…his job is to run the government”.
He also said he did not have to run around as the chief minister because he had delegated work to his ministers.
“I delegated my work to my ministers and guided them while I ran the government. I don’t need to run around,” he told CNN-News18.
Singh also said it was Sidhu’s father Sardar Bhagwant Singh, a veteran Congressman, who introduced him to politics, but added that Sidhu himself was not “stable” and he had warned Congress President Sonia Gandhi about it.
“Sidhu’s father introduced me to politics. Sidhu was a boy with a certain character…you saw how he was a cricketer. Sidhu is unstable…I had told this to Sonia Gandhi,” he said.
“Situation in Punjab has changed…we have terrorists and gangsters linked with each other…arms and ammunition are being trafficked…I have seen this happen over the last 1.5 years.. That’s why I decided to contest again,” he added.