Punjab Congress crisis: Harish Rawat questions Amarinder Singh's proximity to BJP, ex-CM hits back

Alleging that the former Punjab chief minister was playing into the hands of people with whom he had no ideological ties, Rawat said Singh should have stood with the Congress leadership.

Published: 01st October 2021 08:01 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd October 2021 08:34 AM   |  A+A-

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (L) and Congress in-charge Harish Rawat (R)

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (L) and Congress in-charge Harish Rawat (R) (File Photos | PTI)

Express News Service

CHANDIGARH: A day after Amarinder Singh announced to quit the Congress alleging he was humiliated, AICC in-charge for Punjab Harish Rawat launched a no-holds-barred attack on the former chief minister, evoking a stinging response from him.

Questioning Amarinder's "proximity" to the BJP, Rawat said he should have stood with the Congress "to save democracy, instead of playing into the hands of people who were using his so-called humiliation for political reasons".

"His proximity with Amit Shah and some other BJP leaders puts his secular credentials in doubt," Rawat said and advised him not to walk into the BJP's trap.

Summarily rejecting Amarinder's charge of being humiliated, Rawat said the allegation was being made "under pressure" and cautioned him against "directly or indirectly" helping the BJP. "Amarinder was Punjab Congress president thrice and chief minister twice. Is it humiliation?" Rawat questioned.

He  added that the party had given him more opportunities than any other senior leader. He also claimed that the former CM was reminded several times to "take action on our poll promises", but he failed to do that.

Hours later, Amarinder claimed to be shocked by Rawat's "blatant lies" and said the attack was "prompted by the pathetic situation the party has now found itself in Punjab after being on a winning spree for four-and-a-half years".

He said even his worst critics and enemies could not doubt his integrity and that the only pressure he had been under for the past few months was that of his own loyalty to the Congress, because of which he continued to tolerate insult after insult. 

"Three weeks before stepping down as CM, I had offered my resignation to Sonia Gandhi but she had asked me to continue," said Amarinder, adding that he was pushed into resigning in a humiliating manner just hours before the Congress Legislature Party meeting. 

Meanwhile, with the former CM keeping the option of floating a new party open, sources said he was looking to garner a sizable number of supporters to engineer a split in the Congress. According to sources, 15 MLAs are in touch with Amarinder but he is on wait and watch mode for more legislators to get disgruntled with the state of affairs in the party.

"If he manages to bring 25 MLAs with him, it might spell trouble for Congress," said a leader. Political analysts said given the likelihood of a hung assembly in 2022 polls, the ex-CM could play a key role in government formation.

New Punjab in-charge?

Harish Chaudhary is tipped to repl-ace Harish Rawat as Congress in-charge for Punjab. He was the party in-charge during 2017 state polls. He played a key role in brokering peace between Channi and Sidhu.


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