"Will Put Up Strong Candidate Against Navjot Sidhu": Amarinder Singh

Amarinder Singh resigned on Saturday - just four months before the Punjab election - telling Sonia Gandhi he felt humiliated over the party's move to call an emergency meeting of Punjab MLAs without informing him.

Navjot Sidhu is dangerous to the state, Amarinder Singh said (File)

Highlights

  • Amarinder Singh said Navjot Singh Sidhu is "dangerous for the state"
  • He described Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as "misguided"
  • The 79-year-old Congress leader stressed his political options were open
New Delhi:

Amarinder Singh, who was replaced as the Punjab Chief Minister in swift and dramatic changes last weekend, dropped worrying hints for his Congress party as he threatened to field a candidate against Navjot Sidhu in the Punjab election and "make any sacrifice" to stop him becoming Chief Minister.

In a series of interviews, the smarting "Captain" also said he had been asked to continue by Sonia Gandhi when he had offered to quit three weeks ago, and described Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as "inexperienced and misguided".

Mr Singh resigned on Saturday - just four months before the Punjab election - telling Congress president Sonia Gandhi he felt humiliated over the party's move to call an emergency meeting of Punjab MLAs without informing him.

Two days later, Charanjit Singh Channi, who is close to Mr Singh's bitter rival Navjot Sidhu, took over.

The Captain's comments raise the spectre of the Congress facing him as an opponent in the upcoming polls. Internally, party leaders concede that Mr Singh may launch his own outfit and they may have to factor in the damage he could cause.

Mr Singh said he would fight Navjot Sidhu's "elevation to chief ministership" tooth and nail and was ready to make any sacrifice to save the country from "such a dangerous man".

Stating that he would field a strong candidate against Mr Sidhu in the 2022 assembly polls to ensure his defeat, Mr Singh said: "He (Sidhu) is dangerous for the state."

The 79-year-old Congress leader emphasized that his political options were open and that he was talking to "friends" before deciding on his future course of action. "You can be old at 40 and young at 80," he remarked, making it clear that he did not see his age as a hurdle.

The former Chief Minister did not spare the Gandhis in his recriminations. "I was ready to leave after the victory but never after a loss... If she (Sonia Gandhi) had just called me and asked me to step down, I would have. As a soldier, I know how to do my task and leave once I am called back," he said.

Mr Singh said he had told Sonia Gandhi he was ready to quit and allow someone else to take over after leading the Congress in the Punjab polls. "But that did not happen, so I will fight," he warned.

He was resentful of the manner in which the party called a meeting to force his hand.  "I would not have taken MLAs on a flight to Goa or some place. That is not how I operate. I don't do gimmicks, and the Gandhi siblings know that is not my way... Priyanka and Rahul are like my children... this should not have ended like this. I am hurt," he said.

The "Gandhi children" were "quite inexperienced" and their advisors were clearly misguiding them, said the Captain.

Mr Singh took a dig at Mr Sidhu's apparent "interference" in the new Chief Minister's domain and said it was "sad" that someone who could not handle his own ministry should be managing the cabinet. "If Sidhu behaves as the super CM, the party won't function. Under this drama master's leadership, it would be a big thing if the Congress manages to touch double digits in the Punjab polls," he said.