Amarinder Singh merges his party with BJP to ‘fight for Punjab’

Former CM likely to receive a constitutional post or a Rajya Sabha membership

September 19, 2022 10:34 pm | Updated 11:10 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh meets Union Home Minister Amit Shah after joining the Bharatiya Janata Party, at BJP Headquarters in New Delhi, on Monday, September 19, 2022.

Former Punjab CM Amarinder Singh meets Union Home Minister Amit Shah after joining the Bharatiya Janata Party, at BJP Headquarters in New Delhi, on Monday, September 19, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Former Chief Minister of Punjab Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday joined the BJP in New Delhi and also announced the merger of his party, the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) with the same.

At a function at the BJP’s national headquarters in New Delhi, Mr. Singh was welcomed into the BJP along with his supporters by Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Kiren Rijiju.

Along with Capt. Amarinder, his son Raninder Singh and daughter Jai Inder Kaur also joined the BJP. The PLC had been launched by Mr. Singh last year after he quit the Congress following his unceremonious exit as Chief Minister. However, his party failed to win any seat in the State Assembly polls. He himself lost from his home turf of Patiala Urban.

Also Read | Punjab Congress battles multiple crises amid polls

Along with Capt. Amarinder, former Deputy Speaker of Punjab Assembly Ajaib Singh Bhatti, former MP Amrik Singh Aliwal, former legislators Harchand Kaur, Harinder Singh Thekedar, Prem Mittal and labour leader Kewal Singh also joined the BJP with scores of his supporters.

Speaking to the media at his party’s merger with the BJP, Mr. Singh said that prior to his spine surgery abroad, he held discussions with his colleagues in PLC, who told him that the party needed to merge with the BJP “if we want to see a future in Punjab”.

Sources said that Mr. Singh could be offered a constitutional post or a Rajya Sabha membership, where the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) now in power in Punjab has 10 MPs. The BJP is also looking to bolster its appeal across communities in Punjab after the alienation engendered by the farmers’ stir and the loss of its old ally in Punjab — the Shiromani Akali Dal.

“Now is the time to do something for the country. We have seen the Congress, now it is time to go to the party that has been doing so much for the country and its security. It is a pleasure being here,” Mr. Singh said.

Asked whether his wife, Congress MP Preneet Kaur would also join the BJP, he said, “Is it necessary for the wife to do what the husband is doing?” prompting laughter. To a question on whether he supported the completion of the Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, he said, “My job is to fight for Punjab and I will continue to do that”.

Arms procurement

Making a strong pitch over security issues he said: “We are hemmed in by two borders, two hostile nations and it is our duty to protect our country, our home State. If we don't do it, then we are not doing our duty towards the nation,” he said.

Mr. Singh alleged that during (former Defence Minister) A.K. Antony's time, not even one type of weapon was purchased by the Army, Navy or Air Force, which was not the case under the BJP Government, he said.

“We are a border State and I have been in politics for 52 years. I have seen over a period of time that our relationship with Pakistan deteriorated. The animosity that they have put forward, we have noted with growing dismay. We have had three wars in 1961, 1965, and 1971, and since then this animosity has grown,” he noted.

Before joining, Mr. Singh met BJP president J.P. Nadda, and will be meeting Home Minister Amit Shah soon.

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