Former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Monday merged his nascent party, the Punjab Lok Congress, with the BJP in presence of Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar and Kiren Rijiju. Lauding the saffron party for its commitment to national security and calling it one of the reasons for his joining, Singh said that prior to his spine surgery abroad, he held discussions with his colleagues in PLC who told him that “if we want to see a future in Punjab, we need to join the BJP”.
“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,” Singh said. Singh’s son Raninder Singh, whom BJP’s media in charge Anil Baluni addressed with prefix “yuvraj”, and daughter Jai Inder Kaur, also joined along with supporters, including his former adviser BIS Chahal, 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. Singh is the scion of the erstwhile Patiala royal family.
Given the hype, the absence of Home Minister Amit Shah and party president JP Nadda at the event raised some eyebrows. His response to whether his wife Preneet Kaur, a Congress MP, will also join the BJP, left everyone laughing. “Yeh zaroori hai ki jo husband kare wohi wife kare (Is it necessary for the wife to do what the husband is doing),” he shot back when asked about plans of his wife.
After undergoing a spine surgery in London, Singh had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah and Nadda, setting off speculations. Given that Agriculture Minister Tomar was the man who welcomed Singh to the BJP’s fold, Congress leader Partap Singh Bajwa tweeted: “The man who was instrumental in framing the 3 farm laws and is most hated by farmers of Punjab is given duty by BJP to welcome Amarinder in the party. What signal does BJP want to give?”
Singh (80) had floated the PLC last year after quitting Congress following his unceremonious exit as chief minister but his party failed to win any seat in the state assembly polls. He himself lost from his home turf of Patiala Urban. On whether he supported the completion of the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, he said, “My job is to fight for Punjab and I will continue to do that.”
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