Amarinder Singh, who recently quit his post as Chief Minister of the Punjab amid a bitter feud, had an hour-long meeting with Union Home Minister Amit Shah today, sparking speculation about a change of sides. On the record, he said they discussed the farmers’ problems.
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Under the hashtag #NoFarmersNoFood, Mr Singh tweeted: “Met Union Home Minister Amit Shah ji in Delhi. Discussed the prolonged agitation by farmers against farm laws and urged him to resolve the crisis urgently by repealing laws and guaranteeing the MSP, in addition to supporting the Punjab in crop diversification “.
Congress lashed out at the Union Home Secretary shortly after the meeting, saying Amit Shah was furious that a Dalit had been chosen as chief minister and wanted revenge on the Punjab.
Much drama took place after the meeting, when reports indicated that Mr. Singh had left with Mr. Shah to meet with the prime minister. But the reports turned out to be inaccurate.
Mr. Singh’s team described the meeting with Mr. Shah as a “courtesy call”. Ignoring reports of a meeting with the prime minister this evening, sources said there was no decision yet on his joining the BJP.
Earlier, Mr Singh’s media advisor Raveen Thukral said that “too much was being read” about Mr Singh’s visit to Delhi, who was due to meet “friends and leave the Kapurthala House”, which is the residence of the Chief Minister of Punjab in the national capital.
Speculation stems from Mr Singh’s remarks after resigning that he would “exercise his options when the time comes” and make a decision after talking to “friends”. He also indicated that his age was not a barrier, saying “You can be old at 40 and young at 80”.
Mr Singh – considered the greatest mass congressional leader in the state – had stepped down as chief minister earlier this month after a year-long festering rebellion by a section of MPs. Among his detractors was cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who was raised by the Gandhis to the post of party leader two months ago.
Yesterday, sparking further shock for Congress, Mr Sidhu – who had hoped to succeed Mr Singh in the top post – resigned, citing the choices of new chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi for the cabinet. Amarinder Singh, who called Mr. Sidhu “not a stable man,” said this was expected.
The events in Punjab sparked renewed unrest among dissidents in Congress. Senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad wrote to party leader Sonia Gandhi, calling for a meeting of the party’s highest decision-making body, the Working Committee, to discuss the election of a full-time party chairman.
“We are the G-23, certainly not Ji Huzoor-23. We will continue to raise issues,” said former Union Minister Kapil Sibal, who was among 23 leaders who wrote an explosive letter to Sonia. Gandhi last year, calling for radical changes in the organization and its leadership.