The bitter war of words between former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and INC leaders escalated further today. In a series of tweets, Amarinder lashed out at INC leaders for floating “preposterous” lies about him to cover up their mishandling of the crisis in Punjab.
He was responding to senior INC spokesman Randeep Surjewala’s statement that 78 out of the 79 Congress MLAs in Punjab wanted Amarinder to be removed from the chief minister’s post.
Comparing Surjewala’s remarks to Navjot Singh Sidhu‘s “comic theatrics”, the former Punjab chief minister cited another statement by the person in charge of the party’s Punjab unit where he said that 43 legislators had written to Sonia Gandhi.
“Total comedy of errors. Yesterday @harishrawatcmuk said 43 @INCPunjab MLAs wrote to @INCIndia leadership. Today @rssurjewala says it was 78.
“It seems the entire party has become imbued with Navjot Singh Sidhu’s sense of comic theatrics, Next they will claim that 117 MLAs wrote to them against me,” he said in a statement.
Amarinder said that the INC was in disarray and panic-stricken after the “mess” in Punjab and is trying to shift the blame of its own “failures”.
Training his guns on his Punjab Congress rival Navjot Singh Sidhu yet again, Amarinder said the entire crisis in Punjab was orchestrated by the cricketer-turned-politician and his aides.
“Entire affair was orchestrated by @sherryontopp & his aides. Don’t know why they’re allowing him to dictate terms even now,” Amarinder said. He was apparently referring to the recent turmoil in Punjab Congress which was triggered by Sidhu’s abrupt resignation as the state chief over some decisions taken by chief minister Charanjit Singh Channi. The INC is said to have placated Sidhu later, convincing him to continue in the role.
Amarinder lashed out also at Harish Rawat’s remarks that he failed to take action in the 2015 Bargari sacrilege case. He said that his government cracked all three cases within 16 months of coming to power.
“We arrested top cops in Behbal Kalan & Kotkapura firing cases & filed 7 charge sheets, which were struck down by HC,” he wrote. He dismissed the charge that he had “colluded” with the Badals over the incident.
“I wouldn’t have spent last 13 years fighting them [Badals] in courts. Not a single @INCIndia leader stood by me,” the ousted Punjab CM said.
Rawat had earlier lashed out at Amarinder over the sacrilege case and alleged that he had close links with Badals.
“There is a general perception throughout Punjab that Singh and the Badals (opposition SAD) are helping each other and have a secret understanding. I always politely suggested him (sic) to take action on our election promises. At least five times I discussed these issues with Singh but with no result,” Rawat had said.
’78 out of 79 MLAs against Amarinder’
Earlier, INC spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala claimed that it was not party president Sonia Gandhi who made Amarinder Singh quit as the Punjab chief minister but his own MLAs.
Surjewala’s remarks came as Amarinder had accused the INC leadership of “humiliating” him after he tendered his resignation as the Punjab CM.
INC general secretary Surjewala said when any chief minister lost the confidence of all of his legislators, he should not remain in his post.
“Seventy-eight out of 79 legislators (in Punjab) had written for a change of the chief minister. Had we not changed the CM, you would have accused us of being a dictator. Seventy-eight MLAs are on one side and a CM is on the other side and you are not listening to them,” said Surjewala while addressing the media here.
“Sonia Gandhi is the president of the Congress party and the decision on changing the CM in Punjab was not taken by her. As I told you, 78 MLAs had written and then we changed the CM,” Surjewala added.
Amarinder, who has been at odds with the INC leadership since stepping down as the chief minister, said he would not continue in the party. There are reports that he could float his own political outfit.