'Humiliated' Punjab CM Amarinder Singh resigns

'Humiliated' Punjab CM Amarinder Singh resigns; says 'future options open'

Singh said he is still with Congress and will decide on the future course of action in consultation with his colleagues

Amarinder Singh. Credit: PTI file photo

Ending months-long suspense over the power tussle in Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday resigned from the top state post, saying he felt "humiliated" with developments in the last two months and asserting there are "options" for him in future politics, which he will exercise at right time.

The Congress' decision to go in for the big bang shakeup in the state is akin to the BJP changing its Chief Minister and state cabinet lock stock and barrel in another poll-bound state Gujarat. However, elections in Punjab are just four months away and the internal divide in the state runs deep, raising questions on the impact of the desperate bid to beat the anti-incumbency.

Congress' internal surveys had hinted that the party may find it difficult to win the polls under the incumbent Chief Minister but an angry former CM can make the matters worse for the party. Singh asserted that he had fulfilled more than 90 per cent of poll promises made in the manifesto, not done by any Chief Minister and wondered "what else I could have done?"

"I am not angry. I feel let down. I feel humiliated," he said.

Slamming his bete noire, the Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, who kept up a relentless campaign against him, the Chief Minister called him a "disaster" and an "incompetent" person, who, he will "certainly not accept" as the next Chief Minister of Punjab.

Meanwhile, a meeting of Congress Legislature Party attended by more than 70 MLAs, passed resolutions, asking party chief Sonia Gandhi to pick up the next CM and thank the outgoing Chief Minister's contribution to the state and the party during his nine and half-year tenure.

The meeting happened after 50 MLAs wrote to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, seeking removal of the Chief Minister, which many believe was a scripted play after the high command realised that given the deep divide within the party unit and strong anti-incumbency, changing the 79-year-old CM would be the right decision keeping in mind future Congress interest as well.

A visibly upset Chief Minister conceded he felt isolated and made no bones about his view on the PCC chief saying he will "oppose tooth and nail" if Sidhu replaces him as Chief Minister, whom he accused of being an "anti-national element" recalling how Sidhu had in 2018 hugged Pakistan Army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Indications emerged with the PCC chief Sidhu being a Jat Sikh and given the Opposition of the Chief Minister to his anointing for the CM's post, the Congress leadership could go in for middle path and have a Hindu face, (most probably former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar) as new CM for few months till the elections.

Singh recalled, "Sunil Jakhar was my PCC chief".

Also read: Amarinder Singh-Rahul Gandhi feud not new, turns full circle

"I will not agree with Navjot Sidhu. If Sidhu is going to be the face of the Congress, he will have my total opposition. I will not accept him because I know what his capabilities are. He is a total disaster. He was a minister in my government. He could not run one ministry. How can he run the entire government? He will ruin the entire state," the Chief Minister said.

He also rejected the contention that Sidhu has the support of people or MLAs saying "MLAs respond to anything that Delhi wants," indicating that he sees the party high commands' hand in his removal but declined to answer why it was done, saying it for the Congress leadership to say.

He voiced anguish over the party leadership calling MLAs to meet three times in the last two months.

"If there is no confidence in me then there is no point in my remaining as CM. Now I have resigned. They can make anyone CM," he said tersely.

Asserting that politics is not a static game but a moving game, Singh said, "There are options in. When the options come, I will see," the Chief Minister said, making it clear that he is not going to hang his boots in near time.

However, he did not rule out the possibility of working with the BJP.

"Let us drop this question of what will happen. One task has been completed. There could be other tasks. What to say. Politics is a long term game. In politics, options are never closed. I am 80-year-old and can work for 10 more years. I am not the one to leave this way," he said.

He asserted that he has many friends in politics, which he has cultivated in the last 52 years.

Meanwhile, Opposition AAP hit out at the Congress over the "fight over the chair".

"Congress is a sinking Titanic. It has already hit the iceberg. People have understood this. The biggest casualty has been governance in this ongoing game of thrones in Punjab," AAP leader Raghav Chadha said.