Former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh's outburst that he was not treated well by the party is not true, the Congress said today. "It is being said that he was humiliated. I would like to clarify that the party has always given him respect and treated him with high regard," Congress's Punjab in-charge Harish Rawat told reporters today, amid a spiraling crisis in the Punjab Congress that started with Amarinder Singh's resignation as Chief Minister just days ago.
Amarinder Singh yesterday told NDTV he would quit Congress for humiliating him. The Congress leader shocked the party when he went to meet BJP leader and Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi, raising speculation that he might join the BJP. But he has ruled out joining any party, and said he met Mr Shah to discuss farm laws.
"Amarinder Singh seems to be under some kind of pressure," Mr Rawat said.
While resigning as Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh had said he would keep "options open".
"He was at the forefront of Punjab Congress for years and the party always respected his leadership, so he should have stood by the party when certain decisions were taken," Mr Rawat said, alluding to the party's decision to appoint Charanjit Singh Channi to the top post. "When the question is about saving India and democracy, it was expected of Amarinder Singh ji to stand by Sonia Gandhi ji in this time of need," Mr Rawat said.
Amarinder Singh's tactical move whose outcome is still unknown comes after persistent gnawing by a section of Congress MLAs seeking a leadership change in the state ahead of assembly election next year. Just two months ago Navjot Singh Sidhu was made the Punjab Congress chief despite objections by Amarinder Singh, who also openly made it known he would oppose any attempt by the party leadership to consider Mr Sidhu for the top post.
After Charanjit Singh Channi was made Chief Minister over a week ago, Mr Sidhu also resigned as Punjab Congress chief, plunging the party into a full-blown crisis.
"Despite continuous reminders from his colleagues and the leadership, unfortunately, Captain Amarinder failed to keep his promises on important issues like Bargadi, drugs, electricity, etc. There was a general perception throughout the state that Captain and the Badals are helping each other, and they have a secret understanding. I was always politely suggesting him to initiate action on our election promises. At least five times I discussed these issues with Captain sahib but no result," Mr Rawat said in a statement today.
"...Born out of his stubbornness, he was of the belief that he does not need any advice from anyone, including his own MLAs and Minister and party leadership," Mr Rawat said, detailing the simmering tension that grew into a crisis eventually.
"In a democratic party, all the democratic procedures were followed, and the party chose a Chief Minister who comes from a humble background. It was expected from Captain Amarinder Singh to bless him and for that purpose I tried thrice to meet him... but he denied meeting me. The newly appointed Chief Minister also asked for his blessing, and he said that he will call him for tea or lunch, not nothing has happened," Mr Rawat said.