Punjab elections: will Captain Amarinder Singh prove to be the Waterloo of Congress?
“I am not joining the BJP, but I will not stay in Congress.” Captain Amarinder Singh’s message was loud and clear that he was severing the 23-year association with the Grand Old Party. Upset at the “humiliation” at the hands of the congressional leadership in Delhi, Captain, who once portrayed a positive image of the party, has now become his biggest headache.
The reasons are many, but to put it bluntly, Congress is troubled by speculation from the former Chief Minister of Punjab associating with the BJP or floating his own party. Either way, Congress happens to be at the forefront of suffering in the election-related state that has traditionally been one of its greatest strongholds.
The captain’s unceremonious exit not only pushed Congress into yet another crisis in the Punjab, but also exposed the lack of decision-making in the leadership of the party whose footprint has shrunk to three states – Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan – all already facing internal quarrels. .
But after saying that Congress has succeeded in pouring oil on the troubled waters of Punjab with the appointment of Charanjit Singh Channi as chief minister, should Captain’s exit be a concern for the party?
Need the hour?
Speaking to FinancialExpress.com, political commentator Dr Suvrokamal Dutta said the loss of a veteran leader like Captain was a “suicide attempt” on the part of Congress. “To sacrifice a veteran leader just because of the whims of people like (Navjot Singh) Sidhu who are petty renegades in politics is suicidal,” he said.
On the contrary, renowned author and journalist Rasheed Kidwai accuses Captain of being a “laid back politician” who was not popular outside the Punjab. “Captain Amarinder Singh is not a hugely popular figure in the Parivar Congress, especially outside the Punjab. Age is not on his side. Second, when he was removed from his post as CM of Punjab, 78 of the 80 MPs endorsed this decision. So unlike Bhupesh Baghel or Ashok Gehlot, he doesn’t have that majority support, even a fraction of it, ”Kidwai told FinancialExpress.com.
Political experts believe that the congressional leadership decided to replace the captain with Channi because of the perception that the former’s popularity was waning in the state. As the polls approach, the Punjab Congress is not only facing opposition to power, but also allegations of broken promises of drug repression and cases of sacrilege.
Yet, it cannot be denied that Congress’s victory in the 2012 and 2017 Punjab legislative elections when it wrested power from the Akalis was largely attributed to Captain’s leadership.
Changing the political equations in Punjab
Shortly after resigning from his post as chief minister, the captain announced that he would fight in some measure to stop the candidacy for the post of chief minister of Navjot Singh Sidhu, which he described as “dangerous. “for the country. He also announced that he would present his candidate against the then leader of the Punjab Congress so as not to let the latter win.
Amid speculation the captain would float his own party, political analyst Amitabh Tiwari predicts a contest from several angles in the upcoming Punjab assembly polls. “With the arrival of Captain, there is at least a five-way contest in the Punjab, which means that even 500 to 1,000 votes will matter. In this way, he will also cause damage to other parties, including the BJP, if he gives tickets to the hopefuls, ”Tiwari said.
“But, given that there are so many contenders in the race this time around, the captain will have no difficulty securing candidates for the seats he wants to compete in the next election.” Explaining the logic behind this, Tiwari said candidates from other parties joining him will eventually result in losses for those respective parties.
Citing a survey of the most popular CM faces of Congress in Punjab, which gave the captain 18%, Tiwari said, “Of course, Congress will suffer more than anyone because of the captain’s departure. If the captain forms his own party, the maximum share of Congress votes he can get in his favor will be 4-7%.
With political experts and opinion polls predicting a hanged house in the Punjab so far, Captain could rally a good chunk of his supporters and divide Congress in the Punjab to create a new front, especially in the hope of securing it. make it relevant in post-election arithmetic.
Kidwai says starting a new party and performing in the polls won’t be a piece of cake for the captain, however, due to his age and background when he severed ties with Congress and joined Shiromani. Akali Dal (SAD) in the resistance against Operation Blue. Star at the Golden Temple.
“Amarinder Singh left Congress in 1984 and returned in 1998. Between all the elections in which he participated, be it Lok Sabha or the Assembly, when he formed his own party, he performed very poorly, obtaining even less than 1,000 votes. Kidwai told FinancialExpress.com
On speculation that the captain would join Congress, Kidwai said the former CM risks being seen as a “desperate offer or a rank opportunist.” “Because of the ideological differences between the two, anyone who joins the BJP from Congress, this amounts to a very clean break. If someone goes to the Trinamool congress or the Samajwadi party or any other non-BJP, non-NDA party, there is always something going on. But with the BJP, the line is very clear and few dare to do so. But those who do are actually breaking the umbilical cord, ”he said.
Dutta, meanwhile, does not rule out “very big surprises” before the election of Amarinder Singh. “He’s an old horse, and we can’t just wish him to go. Chances are he will organize his own party, or even join the BJP. In either scenario, it will be a huge loss for Congress. “
“When a citadel falls, foreigners try to take advantage of it; and the Punjab citadel was that of Amarinder Singh and not that of Congress as such. It is only thanks to the captain’s charismatic leadership that Congress was able to wrest power from Akali Dal and form a government there, ”he added.
So what are the options for Captain now? Political analysts believe joining the SAD is nearly impossible given its long public bitterness with the Badal family. As far as the AAP is concerned, he may not be interested in leaving room for him either given that Kejriwal accused former government Amarinder Singh of threat of drugs and inaction in cases of sacrilege. .
This leaves the captain with the best bet of joining the BJP, but this will be subject to the condition that the farmers issue is resolved in a timely manner, an issue which the former Punjab CM said he discussed with the minister of Interior of the Union, Amit Shah. recently.