NEW DELHI, September 19: Two time Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and a veteran of many political and military battles, today joined the Bharatiya Janata Party in presence of Union Ministers Narendra Tomar and Kiren Rijiju and a galaxy of other senior leaders.
Among those present included senior leaders Ashwani Sharma, Sunil Jakhar and others.
Besides Capt Amarinder Singh, others who joined the BJP today included former Deputy Speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti, former MPs Amrik Singh Aliwal, Kewal Singh, former MLAs Prem Mittal, Ms Harchand Kaur, Harjinder Thekedar, Balbir Rani Sodhi, former Punjab Mahila Congress president, Raninder Singh, Beeba Jaya Inder Kaur, Nirvan Singh, Kamaljit Saino and Farzana Alam, who was represented by her daughter as she was abroad at the BJP headquarters here today.
Earlier, Capt Amarinder met union Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP president, JP Nadda before joining the party.
Welcoming Capt Amarinder and others into the party, Mr Tomar said, Capt Amarinder had always kept national interests above the partisan interests. He said, with his joining the party, BJP will be strengthened further in Punjab.
Capt Amarinder expressed gratitude to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and the BJP president JP Nadda for reposing trust and confidence in him. He assured that he will give in his best to strengthen the party in Punjab.
Capt Amarinder Singh, a veteran of many political and military battles, left the Congress last year after resigning as the Chief Minister. He set up his own political outfit, Punjab Lok Congress, which fought February 2022 assembly elections in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Capt Amarinder, is one of the most popular and charismatic political leaders in the country, who carries charisma and commands a lot of respect and influence in Punjab cutting across all divides. The Congress realized his importance after the devastating 2022 drubbing and defeat when it was reduced from 82 seats to mere 18.
It goes to Capt Amarinder’s credit that the Congress could form government in Punjab twice, in 2002 and 2017 after the Operation Bluestar and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. It remained a strong political force under Capt Amarinder even when it lost in 2007 and 2012 when its poll percentage was almost the same as that of the winning Akali-BJP alliance.
Capt Amarinder combines strong panthic credentials with equally strong nationalistic credentials. He resigned from the parliament and also from the Congress in 1984 to protest against the Operation Bluestar. It was no ordinary decision to defy someone like Ms Indira Gandhi. Capt Amarinder was at that time just 42, risking his political career. He again resigned from the Barnala government when police entered Durbar Sahib two years later.
In 2004, Capt Amarinder put his Chief Ministership at stake when he repealed all previous water sharing agreements in the Punjab assembly to save further flow of water from Punjab to Haryana. He antagonized his party president Ms Sonia Gandhi that time to save Punjab’s waters. She did not grant him an audience for about a year as a disapproval of his decision to save Punjab waters.
Capt Amarinder has equally strong nationalistic credentials. His nationalistic stand on various issues apart, not many people know that Capt Amarinder rejoined the army to fight war against Pakistan in 1964. He had taken premature retirement owing to family engagements. But once war broke out, he rejoined the army and was in action in the western front, the actual theatre of war and action, as ADC to the army commander Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh.
No wonder there is a lot of optimism and expectation among the BJP’s rank and file over his joining the party. Capt Amarinder has been the most admired leader among the BJP supporters when he was not in the BJP.
Capt Amarinder’s credentials and charisma coupled with great expectations the BJP has raised, will definitely alter the political balance and equations in Punjab ahead of the crucial 2024 General Elections.