Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday took oath as chief minister of the state, thereby ushering in the return of the Congress to power in Punjab after a gap of ten years. Last time, Singh took on the chief ministerial role was in 2002 and he remained in power till 2007. In the recently held Assembly elections in Punjab, Congress came out victorious with 77 seats. The swearing in ceremony, which included nine other cabinet ministers, was kept on a low scale due to the state’s ongoing financial crisis.
While taking the official oath on Thursday, Singh assured to fulfill all the promises made in the Congress manifesto for development of Punjab. “I will work on programmes mentioned in the manifesto from Monday. I will take up most of the issues in the first Cabinet meeting,” he told ANI.
Born in March 1942, Captain Amarinder Singh is the son of the last king of the erstwhile state of Patiala. Having completed his schooling from Doon school, Singh completed his military training from the National Defense Academy and the Indian Military Academy. He joined the Indian Army in 1963 and was part of the Indo-Pakistan war of 1965, as part of the Sikh regiment.
Singh’s initiation into politics happened when he joined the Congress under Rajiv Gandhi who was his friend from school. In 1980 he won a seat in the Lok Sabha for the first time. In 1984, however, Singh resigned from the Congress in resistance against Operation Blue Star at Golden Temple. He later joined the SAD. Breaking away from the SAD in 1992, Singh formed a splinter group called the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic) that later merged with the Congress in 1997.
Singh unsuccessfully fought the parliamentary elections with a Congress ticket from Patiala in 1998. He served as Punjab Congress chief from 1999 to 2002, before he became the state’s chief minister.
In September 2008, he was expelled by an Assembly panel on allegations of irregularities in a land transfer case. In 2010, Singh got relief from the Supreme Court which held his expulsion unconstitutional. Soon after he headed the state Congress till 2013.
In 2014, Singh fought the Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar and defeated BJP leader Arun Jaitley by a margin of more than one lakh votes. He later resigned when the Supreme Court ruled the Sutlej Yamuna Link (SYL) canal agreement as unconstitutional.
Singh was appointed president of Punjab Congress on November 27, 2015, in the run up to the 2017 Assembly elections. At 75, Amarinder Singh is a popular and widely respected leader in Punjab. Apart from a strong political contender, he is also well known for his literary bend. He has penned several books on war and Sikh history, including his memoir of the 1965 Indo-Pak war.