Following his resignation, citing ‘humiliation’ by the Congress high command , the two-time Chief Minister of Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh made it clear that he would explore and exercise his political options at an appropriate time.
The 79-year-old Capt. Amarinder said he would decide his future political course of action in consultation with his supporters who have stood by him for over five decades. “There is always an option, and I will use that option when the time comes…at the moment I am still in Congress,” he said after submitting his resignation.
However, political observers believe that the Congress stalwart does not stand a strong chance if he breaks away from the Congress unless he is offered a leadership role by some other political party.
“The only way Capt. Amarinder can survive is by joining another party. Floating a new party won’t be an easy task. His best bet could be the Bharatiya Janata Party. Capt. Amarinder has a moderate image and is an acceptable leader among Hindus in Punjab. He has been invoking his military background, national security issues, targeting Navjot Singh Sidhu on his Pakistan connection — it all blends well with the BJP line,” said Ashutosh Kumar, professor with political science department of Punjab University.
“Floating a new party is not easy, but if he floats a new party it is unlikely to help him although it shall damage Congress’s electoral prospects. Also as Congress in Punjab is facing anti-incumbancy and especially Capt Amarinder has been facing charges of ‘not having been seen on the ground’ and the government being run by bureaucrats is a baggage that he will have to carry all along,” he added.
Capt. Amarinder has in the past threatened the Congress leadership or 'high command with splitting the party if he was not declared as chief ministerial candidate, mopst notably in 2017.
Ronki Ram, Shaheed Bhaghat Singh Chair professor of political science at Panjab University, pointed out that if Capt. Amarinder had the support of a substantial number of MLAs he wouldn’t have resigned. “Floating a new party by him may not be feasible. Also, joining any other party is not an easy option for him unless he is offered a Chief Minister position,” he said.
Capt. Amarinder on Saturday ruled out quitting politics and said that as an Army man, he had a lot of will and would remain active in the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab. “I am not hanging my boots,” he declared. .
He also rejected claims by the Congress leadership that he had lost the confidence of the MLAs, terming it a lame excuse. “Just a week ago, I had sent to Sonia Gandhi a list of 63 MLAs who were supporting me,” he said, adding that MLAs usually respond to what they think Delhi wants, which was the case at the Congress Legislature Party meeting too. In any case, it is not possible to make all MLAs happy, he added.