New Delhi: Capt. Amarinder Singh, 80, a two-time former chief minister of Punjab and a scion of the erstwhile Patiala royal family, on Monday joined the BJP and also merged his fledgling party Punjab Lok Congress with the saffron party. The BJP termed Capt. Singh’s joining the saffron fold as a “big moment in India’s political history”, and said that he had always “kept the nation above all”.
“Now is the time to do something for the country. We have seen the Congress, now it is time to go to the party that has been doing so much for the country and its security. It is a pleasure being here,” Capt. Singh said after joining the BJP at the party headquarters.
Asked by reporters about the speculation that Capt. Singh’s wife, Congress’ Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, could also join the BJP, the former Punjab CM replied: “Yeh zaroori hai kya jo husband kare wohi wife kare” (It is not necessary for the wife to do what the husband does).
Meanwhile, Capt. Singh’s son and former Congress leader Raninder Singh and daughter Jai Inder Kaur also joined the BJP on Monday.
Capt. Singh, who was unceremoniously removed from the CM’s post by the Congress high command last year, which was followed by his exit from the party he was associated with for five decades, stressed how India was “ hemmed in by two hostile nations (Pakistan and China)” and how Punjab, being a border state, plays a great role in maintaining the nation’s security. He also talked about rising cross-border security threats in Punjab and said he wants to protect the state as well as the country, adding that the BJP is the party that takes the issue seriously.
Capt. Singh was accompanied by PLC office-bearers at the BJP headquarters, who also joined the saffron fold. Union ministers Narendra Singh Tomar ans Kiren Rijiju, former PCC chief and now BJP leader Sunil Jhakar, and BJP Punjab unit chief Ashwini Sharma were present on the occasion.
Welcoming the former Congress stalwart, Mr Tomar said even when he was in the Congress, Capt. Singh shared the motto of “desh pratham” (country first), and then the party, which is the motto of the BJP. The Union minister claimed that Capt. Singh’s joining the BJP was an indication that he favours peace and security in Punjab.
“Capt. Singh’s thoughts have been similar to that of the BJP, as the BJP is the only political party which considers the nation first and the party after that. Amarinder Singh has also maintained this view all his life… The BJP will be strengthened in Punjab with his joining. This will be a historic step,” Mr Tomar said.
Before joining the party, Capt. Singh met BJP president J.P. Nadda and Union home minister Amit Shah.
Welcoming Capt. Singh, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said Punjab was a state which needs to be handled with utmost sincerity. “Though he was in a different party (when CM), but I remember on many occasions when I engaged with him (as a Union minister), he never brought politics before national security… This is an important milestone in India’s political history,” said Mr Rijiju,.
Seven former MLAs and one former MP also joined the BJP along with Capt. Singh.
Capt. Singh had contested the last Assembly polls in alliance with the BJP and the Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa-led Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt), though his party failed to open its account with Capt. Singh also losing from his turf, Patiala.
Capt. Singh had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Shah last week after returning from London after a spinal surgery. Before leaving for London, he had conveyed his intention to merge his party with the BJP....