Captain Amarinder Singh did not set the Sutlej on fire when he announced his decision to form a political party to fight the next election to the Punjab Assembly. Such a move has been on the cards ever since he was forced to step down as chief minister a month ago. He may or may not agree but the fact remains that an overwhelming majority of the Congress MLAs wanted him to step down. In other words, his resignation had become a fait accompli. He cannot, therefore, play the card of victimhood at least among those who know the background in which the Congress high command asked him to step down. Alas, for a politician branching out on his own, he has no concrete plan of action.
He wants to fight the next election in the company of the BJP and some factions of the Akali Dal. It is a reflection of his political bankruptcy. He thought he could make a bang in state politics by facilitating an agreement between the Centre and the agitating farmers. Alas, Home Minister Amit Shah did not play ball, as he had his own plans to trigger a crisis for the agitating farmers and fish in the troubled waters. Recently, when every party in Punjab questioned the Centre’s bona fides to increase the area of jurisdiction of the Border Security Force up to 50 kms in Punjab from the India-Pakistan border, he sided with the Centre. All this does not measure up to a political strategy, particularly, when he has to build a party from scratch.
Punjab is basically an agrarian state where the farmers are in a position to set the political agenda. Even if the BJP agrees to withdraw the three controversial farm laws, the incidents of the past are unlikely to be forgotten by the people. In other words, the BJP does not command much of a support except among the Hindus, especially in urban areas. For the BJP, it would indeed be difficult to sell the Captain’s leadership to the electorate. Age is also not on his side. He will be a liability for the BJP, which will also find difficulty in criticising the Congress government’s policies. Of course, the Captain could be a spoiler for the Congress but it would be too small an achievement for him. After all, he is neither a Mamata Banerjee nor a YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.
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