This Article is From Sep 30, 2021

Amarinder Singh To NDTV: "Not Joining BJP, But Won't Remain In Congress"

Punjab Congress Crisis: Pulling no punches, the Captain predicted the Congress's downfall in Punjab and called his rival Navjot Singh Sidhu a "childish man" who had been given a serious job by the party.

Amarinder Singh to NDTV: "I'm not joining BJP but am leaving Congress, can't handle insult"

New Delhi:

Amarinder Singh declared on Thursday that he is not joining the BJP but definitely quitting the Congress, confirming exclusively to NDTV what has been furiously speculated since he was forced to quit as Punjab Chief Minister earlier this month.

"So far I am in the Congress but I will not remain in the Congress. I have already made my position very clear. I will not be treated in this manner," the Captain said in an interview a day after meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi. Soon after the reveal, he dropped "Congress" from his Twitter bio. A formal resignation would come at an "appropriate time", he said.

Pulling no punches, the Captain also predicted the Congress's downfall in Punjab - in the run-up to the polls - and called his rival Navjot Singh Sidhu a "childish man" who had been given a serious job by the party.

"I have been in politics for 52 years. I have my own beliefs, my own principles. The way I have been treated... At 10.30 am the Congress President says you resign. I didn't ask any questions. I said I will do it just now. At 4 pm I went to the Governor and resigned... If you doubt me after 50 years and my credibility is at stake... if there is no trust, what is the point of me staying in the party?"

Before quitting on September 18, Amarinder Singh had told Sonia Gandhi that he had been humiliated thrice by the party.

"I have made my stand very clear to the Congress that I will not be treated in this manner. I will not stand for it. I have not resigned from the Congress yet, but how can one continue in a place where there is a trust deficit? When there is no trust, one cannot continue," he said.

On the big question that all, including the Congress, have for him after his meeting with Amit Shah, Mr Singh asserted: "I am not joining the BJP".

He added: "I have not resigned from the Congress but I will resign. I am not a person who takes split-second decisions. But I am not joining the BJP."

Navjot Sidhu, who played a big role in the two-time Chief Minister's abrupt exit, has also stunned the party by resigning as Punjab Congress chief.

"Sidhu is an immature person. I have said this repeatedly, that he is not a stable man. He is not a team player. He is a loner. How will he handle the Punjab Congress as its chief? For that you need to be a team player, which Sidhu is not," Mr Singh said.

"Sidhu is good at drawing crowds. He is good at drama. He can do what he did in Kapil Sharma's show and get a crowd, but he is not a serious guy. How can a non-serious person be taking serious, major decisions in the running of a party and the state government?"

On Rahul Gandhi, who is facing criticism for his handling of the Punjab leadership mess, Mr Singh said: "He wants to bring young blood into the party but refuses to listen to the advice of older party leaders."

The Captain predicted doom for the Congress in the Punjab election due early next year.

"The Congress is going downhill. In the current scenario, we see in a recent survey done by the Congress between July and September that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is going up and the Congress is going down. The people clearly don't have any trust in Sidhu. Congress has seen a 20% decline according to that survey," he said.

"This election will be very different with Congress, AAP, Akali Dal, factions of the Akali Dal, and there may be another front emerging too... so, it will be a very different election," he commented. Was he preparing to set up a new outfit? Mr Singh did not answer.

Amid signs of another high-profile exit, the Congress had reached out to Amarinder Singh.

Sources said senior Congress leaders Ambika Soni and Kamal Nath tried to placate Mr Singh. But the Captain, who has been in Delhi since Tuesday, tellingly never sought any meeting with his party president as he continues his meetings with the "other side".

The former Chief Minister met with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval this morning. Sources say he may have discussed Punjab border security amid political turmoil in the state.

The 79-year-old stalwart had till now kept the Congress on edge, neither confirming nor denying that he is exploring his options after his exit.