Amarinder Singh today announced an alliance with the BJP for the Punjab election, a move that had been anticipated ever since he quit the Congress last month.
The former Punjab Chief Minister made the announcement after meeting with the BJP leadership in Delhi. He also tweeted photos hugging Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the BJP's Punjab in-charge.
"Our alliance (with BJP) is confirmed. Only seat-sharing talks are going on. We will see who will contest where - our criteria for seat selection is purely winnability," Amarinder Singh told reporters.
"The alliance will definitely, 101 percent win the elections. You can take that in writing," he added.
Gajendra Singh Shekhawat revealed in a separate post that it took "seven rounds of talks" to seal the deal. Former Akali Dal leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is likely to join the alliance.
Smarting from his "humiliation" in the Congress, Amarinder Singh had started talks with the BJP for a partnership in Punjab even before quitting his party of 40 years.
The "Captain" had reportedly named one condition - the scrapping of the three farm laws at the core of a yearlong protest by farmers in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and other states.
Sources say Prime Minister Narendra Modi's decision to withdraw the controversial laws was driven partly by the BJP's plans for Punjab, a state where it played junior partner to the Akali Dal for decades until a break-up over the farmer protests.
As the BJP gets into a brand new alliance with Amarinder Singh, it plans to negotiate a senior partner status with a bigger share of seats than the debutant Punjab Lok Congress, sources say.
Met union minister & @BJP4India incharge for Punjab, Shri @gssjodhpur in New Delhi today to chalk out future course of action ahead of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections. We have formally announced a seat adjustment with the BJP for the 2022 Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections. pic.twitter.com/cgqAcpW2MW— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) December 17, 2021
The alliance marks a huge political reorientation in Punjab and adds the fourth corner to an increasingly intense contest that, just months ago, seemed to be heavily skewed in favour of the state's ruling Congress.
With a new "Captain" at its helm in Punjab, the Congress faces a tough challenge this time from Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Akali Dal's Sukhbir Badal has tied up with Mayawati's BSP.
Amarinder Singh, 79, exited the Congress after being abruptly replaced as Chief Minister in September - a shock ending to his protracted feud with Punjab Congress Chief Navjot Singh Sidhu. After cutting off all contact with the Congress leadership, he held talks with PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi.