Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday slammed the Congress, saying the “panic-stricken” party is in “disarray” and its leaders are telling lies to “cover up mishandling” of the crisis triggered by infighting in its state unit. His remarks came hours after Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that 78 party legislators had sought Singh’s ouster in a letter to the central leadership and it was not party president Sonia Gandhi who made him quit. Amarinder Singh has been criticising the party and its leadership after he quit as the CM last month after a bitter power tussle with state unit chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, whose resignation from his post recently had pushed the party into a fresh crisis.
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Pointing to “conflicting” numbers shared by AICC general secretary Surjewala and Punjab affairs incharge Harish Rawat about the “purported” letter that expressed lack of confidence against him, Singh said it was “a comedy of errors”. Rawat had said in a press statement on Friday that 43 MLAs had written to the high command on the issue.
“It seems the entire party has become imbued with Navjot Singh Sidhu’s sense of comic theatrics,” Singh said in a statement. “Next they will claim that 117 MLAs wrote to them against me,” he retorted.
“This is the state of affairs in the party. They cannot even coordinate their lies properly,” Singh claimed. The Congress is in “total state of disarray” and the crisis seemed to be escalating by the day, with a large majority of its senior leaders completely “disenchanted” with the functioning of the party, he claimed.
The fact of the matter, said the former chief minister, is that the 43-odd MLAs who had signed the letter had been “forced to do so under duress”. Having been pushed into a corner over its “mishandling” of the Punjab crisis, the Congress is now in a total state of panic which was evident in the statements of its leaders, Singh claimed Singh said the “panic-stricken” party, which was grappling with internal chaos, is trying hard to shift the blame of its own failures.
“It’s sad to see the way they are resorting to blatant lies to justify their wrongdoings,” he said. The Congress veteran alleged that “preposterous lies” were being floated by party leaders in a “clear bid to cover up their mishandling of the crisis” in Punjab.
Amarinder Singh said since 2017, the Congress had swept every election in Punjab with him at the helm of the government, which was in total contrast to the claims being made by the party leadership. In the last Assembly elections, the party won an unprecedented 77 seats. In the by-elections in 2019, the Congress won three of the four seats, even winning from Sukhbir Badal’s stronghold of Jalalabad. Even in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the party swept eight of the 13 seats despite the massive BJP wave in the country, said Singh. And in February this year, in the elections to seven municipal corporations, the Congress won 281 of the 350 seats (80.28 per cent), he said.
Clearly, the people of Punjab had not lost trust in him as claimed by Surjewala, said Singh. The whole affair had been “orchestrated” by a few leaders and MLAs at the behest of Navjot Singh Sidhu, who, for some inexplicable reason, was being allowed to “dictate” the terms for the Congress in Punjab, the former CM said.
This was evident from the “lies” Rawat had mouthed Friday, even on a sensitive and emotive issue like desecration and the subsequent police firing cases, said Singh. He warned that the party will have to pay a heavy electoral price in the state for these “falsehoods”. “Had I been hand in glove with the Badals, as they are alleging, I would not have spent the last 13 years fighting them in courts,” he said, lamenting that not a single party leader had stood by him in his legal battles.
Trashing accusations of not taking any action in these cases, the former chief minister said after assuming charge in March 2017, his government was successful in cracking all three major cases of the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib, which took place between June-October 2015. Earlier in the day, Surjewala said when any chief minister loses the confidence of all of his legislators, then he should not remain in his post.
“Seventy-eight out of 79 legislators had written for a change of the chief minister. Had we not changed the CM, then you would have accused us of being a dictator,” he said addressing the media.