NEW DELHI: Former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh arrived in Delhi on Tuesday amidst an intense buzz over a meeting with the BJP brass that might be a precursor to an alliance, even as his visit was termed as a personal one to meet “friends”.
BJP sources hinted at a “strong possibility” of the veteran leader, who fell out in a dramatic fashion with the Congress leadership, being inducted into the party. The possibility was seen by BJP leaders as a big boost to their prospects in the border state ahead of elections due in February.
“Something is cooking… things will be clear soon,” said a senior BJP functionary making it clear that the party is in touch with the former CM. There have been previous occasions when Singh was reported to be in touch with BJP, particularly prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but the moves did not fructify, in part due to BJP’s alliance with the Akalis which is now over.
As soon as Singh left Chandigarh for Delhi, speculation about a meeting with home minister Amit shah and BJP president JP Nadda began to do the rounds. He had also told reporters in Chandigarh that he was going to meet Shah, which was later dubbed as a meeting on the Covid situation in Punjab. There was no confirmation of a meeting till late Tuesday; sources said it could take place on Wednesday.
The speculative reports did not die down even though Raveen Thukral, media adviser to Singh, said the leader was on a personal visit to Delhi. “Too much is read into Amarinder Singh’s visit to Delhi. He’s on a personal visit, during which he’ll meet some friends and also vacate Kapurthala house for the new CM. No need for any unnecessary speculation,” he said.Asked about his next course of action, Thukral said that will be per wishes of his supporters and followers and “all options are open”.
BJP sources, however, asserted that Singh, a former Army officer, and who’s views on national security tally with the party’s, is likely to join the saffron fold. There will be the issue of his strong opposition to the new farm laws, but BJP functionaries felt a suitable formulation could be found. Singh, on his part, could get a party apparatus and resources for the election. In fact they said, if he had recommended dissolution of the Punjab assembly, the partnership would have happened sooner.
Singh recently resigned with less than five months to go for the assembly election after a bitter squabble with his bete noir Navjot Singh Sidhu — who, ironically enough, quit as Punjab party chief on Tuesday — accused the Congress leadership of “humiliating” him and said the Gandhi siblings lacked political experience.
If Amarinder Singh does join BJP, he will follow Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was inducted as a cabinet minister in the Modi ministry, Jitin Prasada and others like Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.
It will also come as a boost to BJP in Punjab where it is left with no ally after Akali Dal walked away over the three farm laws and its vote is essentially restricted to the urban Hindu population. Besides, it will help in a perception buildup in its favour nationally with a senior leader joining them from a state, which has become hub of the anti-farm law agitation.