Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, 77, may have been out of the Indian Army for decades now but he is proud to have served the nation in uniform.
But this tactical advance into the opponent’s political territory by associating fellow ‘faujis’ (ex-servicemen) seems unparalleled. He has been striking a cord during his election meetings by saying from the dais: “I am seeing too many ‘faujis’ here. How many of you participated in the 1965 India-Pakistan war?”
Keeping his humorous side alive, Captain Amarinder Singh, who had served as an army captain during the war and often greets his contemporaries by saluting them, does not miss an opportunity to remind the gathering by saying BJP actor-turned-politician candidate Sunny Deol from Gurdaspur is a ‘filmy fauji’ while ‘I am a real fauji’.” At time, he goes nostalgic with the ex-servicemen, a major vote bank in the border towns and villages of Punjab.
Invoking his Army background, Amarinder Singh, whose book “Honour and Fidelity: India’s Military Contribution to the Great War 1914-1918” talks about the massive contribution of Indian soldiers, had gone nostalgic when he met an Army war veteran in Bathinda at an election meeting last week. He met Captain Mall Singh (retired) of 2 Sikh, who had sustained nearly half a dozen bullet injuries as part of Charlie Company in the 1965 war, and got himself photographed with him.
Going down memory lane, Amarinder Singh, the scion of the erstwhile Patiala royal family and a prolific military historian, Amarinder Singh in a tweet on May 12 wrote. “This painting brings to life memories from 1966 when I was serving in the Indian Army as ADC to Lt. General Harbaksh Singh. Proud to have served the nation in uniform.”
Terming the Pulwama terror strike an act of cowardice, Amarinder Singh does not forget to lash out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for seeking votes in the name of those who died in the attack and in the name of the Balakot air strike carried out by what Modi claimed to be “his” army.
“It is not Modi’s ‘fauj’ (army), but India’s ‘fauj’ which has fought all the battles and made sacrifices,” said Amarinder Singh, who has to his credit several books on war and Sikh history, at an election rally. He also called Modi’s attempt to take credit of the armed forces’ valour “abominable”. Nobody ever saw Indira Gandhi taking credit for dividing Pakistan in 1971. She gave full credit to the armed forces,” said Amarinder Singh, who joined the Congress in 1980 under Rajiv Gandhi.
Describing Modi as a self-obsessed man, the Chief Minister, who resigned as a Congress MP and left the party in 1984 to protest against Operation Bluestar and returned to the party in 1997, drew a sharp contrast between the Prime Minister’s handling of the Balakot success and Indira Gandhi’s achievement in splitting Pakistan to create Bangladesh during the 1971 war.
(Vishal Gulati can be reached at email@example.com)