The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leadership has developed a new love for Capt Amarinder Singh, days after he resigned as chief minister following a long internal tussle within the ruling Congress in Punjab. After constantly attacking him during his four and a half year tenure, the BJP has now termed his exit as a “political murder” by a Congress, which found the “nationalist” leader a hurdle in its “gameplan”.
The saffron party, relegated to the sidelines in the agrarian state over protests against the three central agri laws, is seeking to gain political relevance ahead of the next year’s Assembly election. It has now found a handle in Amarinder’s comments questioning state Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu’s friendship with Pakistan Prime Minster Imran Khan and that country’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
After resigning as the Punjab CM, Amarinder had said that Sidhu should not become the CM of the state as he was “dangerous” and an “anti-national”. “We have all seen Sidhu hugging Imran Khan and General Bajwa, and singing praises for the Pakistan PM at the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor while our soldiers were being killed at the borders every day,” Amarinder had said
Now, from Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij and BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh to Punjab BJP chief Ashwani Sharma and party MP from Uttarakhand, Anil Baluni, all have cited Amarinder’s concern to take on Sidhu and questioned the Congress high command over the former CMs comments.
Incidentally, Amarinder has not spoken anything against the BJP in interviews he gave after tendering resignation on September 18. Combined with this, the BJPs strong defence of Amarinder has raised speculation in political circles whether the former CM will be joining the saffron party.
On Thursday, Anil Vij, while hailing Amarinder as as “nationalist” accused the Congress of hatching an “anti-national conspiracy” to bring Punjab and Pakistan closer.
“There is a deep-rooted, anti-national conspiracy of Congress to bring Sidhu, a Pakistan supporter and friend of Imran Khan and Qamar Javed Bajwa and his aides to power so that Punjab and Pakistan could flock together in future”.
Vij said, “Nationalist Amarinder Singh was a hurdle in the Congress gameplan, this is why his political murder was done”.
The Haryana minister said this was proved when Sidhu went to Pakistan to attend Imran Khan’s oath ceremony despite Amarinder Singh advising him against it. “In Pakistan, Sidhu not only heaped praise on Imran Khan but also warmly hugged that nation’s Army chief. When Sidhu came back and was asked why he had gone to Pakistan despite Amarinder advising him not to go, he had said that my captain is not Amarinder Singh, my captain is Rahul Gandhi,” Vij said.
“It is clear now that the game was being played and the conspiracy was being hatched against nationalist Amarinder Singh, who was obstructing this dirty conspiracy of the Congress,” he added.
Chugh picked on Sidhu’s remarks to attack him. “This person says Imran Khan is my yaar (friend) and Aman ka maseeha (angel of peace) and hugged the Pakistan Army Chief because he appointed Imran Khan as PM… Sidhu hugged the Pak Army Chief because his friend had been made the PM. He later lied that he had hugged Bajwa because of Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara announcement,” said Chugh.
The senior BJP leader added that Amarinder has made very serious allegations against Sidhu by calling him anti-national and the Congress high command needs to come clean on the matter. “If Sidhu is a threat to the nation then why is the AICC high command, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi supporting Sidhu as PCC chief in a border state,” asked Chugh.
Sharma, the state BJP chief, asked Sidhu to use his “connections” in Pakistan occupied Kashmir and get the Pakistan military to stop killing Indian soldiers on the border.
Meanwhile, in Uttarakhand a verbal duel has ensued between AICC in charge for Punjab Harish Rawat and BJP Rajya Sabha member Anil Baluni after the Congress leader called the Pakistan army chief “brother” while defending Sidhu’.
Rawat, in a tweet, had justified his Sidhu’s act of hugging General Bajwa at the swearing-in of Imran Khan in Islamabad, asking how could one Punjabi “bhra” (brother) hugging another be an act of sedition. “If there was nothing wrong in Narendra Modi going uninvited to Nawaz Sharif’s birthday and hugging him, how could Sidhu hugging Bajwa be an act of sedition,” Rawat said.
Justifying his description of Bajwa as Punjabi “brother”, he said that part of India’s Punjab which is now in Pakistan is also called Punjab.
Objecting to it, Baluni said it was “unfortunate and hurting” that Rawat had used the word for someone “whose hands are steeped in the blood of India’s brave soldiers”.
“What sort of politics of appeasement is this? It is more shocking as it comes from a man who belongs to Devbhoomi where every family has someone in the armed forces,” Baluni said.
The BJP MP also lashed out at Rawat for praising Sidhu. “How could he praise Sidhu who has been described by his own senior party colleague and former CM as a threat to national security,” Baluni asked .