Amarinder to launch party. Will he team up with BJP?
Former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has declared that he will float a new political party, months ahead of next year's state Assembly elections. He added he will consider an alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) provided the farmers' protest is resolved. Singh was unceremoniously removed as Punjab CM last month after which he said he would quit the Congress party.
'The battle for Punjab's future is on'
"The battle for Punjab's future is on. Will soon announce the launch of my own political party to serve the interests of Punjab and its people, including our farmers who have been fighting for their survival for over a year," Singh said, according to his media adviser Raveen Thukral. "Hopeful of a seat arrangement with BJP if farmers' protest is resolved in farmers' interest."
Singh said he may partner with Akali Dal factions
Singh said he is also open to partnering with "like-minded parties" like breakaway Akali Dal groups. "I will not rest till I can secure the future of my people and my state. Punjab needs political stability and protection from internal & external threats. I promise my people I will do what it takes to ensure its peace and security, which is today at stake."
'Tallest leader in Punjab': BJP welcomes Singh's move
The BJP has welcomed the move. "As of now, he is the tallest leader in Punjab. There is no one else close to him," said Subhash Verma, general secretary of the Punjab BJP. "Leaders like him have a mass following and parties should know how to give them due respect," said another BJP leader. Notably, Singh has not officially quit Congress yet.
Singh had resigned as Punjab CM last month
Singh was asked by the Congress leadership to quit as Punjab CM last month. He was replaced by Charanjit Singh Channi. At that time, the former CM had said he felt humiliated and would explore his options. His meeting with Union Home Minister and BJP leader Amit Shah had triggered speculation about him joining the BJP. He, however, denied that.
'The cat is out of the bag': Congress attacks Singh
Congress leader and Punjab Cabinet Minister Pargat Singh hit out at Singh after his announcement. "The cat is out of the bag. I have always been saying that he (Singh) was in cahoots with the BJP and SAD (Shiromani Akali Dal). His quid pro quo with the BJP is out in the open. Soon his (arrangement) with SAD will be out also," he said.