Amarinder Singh Resigns As Chief Minister, Saying He Feels ‘Humiliated’
According to open sources, more than 50 MLAs have written to Congress leader Sonia Gandhi urging that Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh be replaced.
Amarinder Singh resigned as Punjab Chief Minister today, months before the election, claiming he has been "humiliated three times" and that Congress can "appoint anybody they trust." He further stated that "when the time comes," he will "exercise his options."
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A surprise gathering of Punjab MLAs called by the Congress late last night, with strong implications that a majority of them had requested change, brought a months-long issue ahead. Harish Rawat, the Congress's Punjab in-charge, tweeted about the meeting, and Amarinder Singh's opponent Navjot Singh Sidhu shared it.
Amarinder Singh, 79, was so taken aback by the move that he announced his resignation the next morning to the media. He claimed that he had spoken with Congress President Sonia Gandhi and told her that he had had enough of being humiliated.
I was humiliated three times by the Congress leadership in the past two months...they called the MLAs to Delhi twice and now convened CLP (MLAs' meeting) today. Apparently they (Congress leadership) do not have confidence in me and did not think I could handle my job. But I felt humiliated at the manner in which they handled the whole affair... It's now up to them to appoint anyone they trust," Mr Singh said, flashing resentment that threatens to blow up for the Congress in the coming months.
Mr Singh added, when asked whether he would stay in the Congress or start a new party before the election, "There is always an option, and I will use that option when the time comes... at the present I am still in Congress." "I will speak to my people who have backed me for the past 52 years," he said. Mr Singh has previously summoned MLAs to his residence to rally his supporters. The conference was attended by fifteen of Congress's 80 MLAs, including four ministers.
Amarinder Singh's son Raninder Singh talked about "new beginnings" in his tweet. "...must go now as I am proud to accompany my father to Raj Bhawan when he submits his resignation as CM of Punjab and leads us as head of our family into a new beginning et all," he wrote.
Mr Singh, predictably, did not attend the MLA meeting. Over 50 MLAs wrote to Sonia Gandhi demanding that the "Captain" be replaced as Chief Minister, according to sources. Mr Singh defied the party's resigning order, raising the prospect of a rift in the Congress and confusion over who will be Chief Minister and lead the party in the Punjab election.
Former Punjab Congress chairmen Sunil Jakhar and Pratap Singh Bajwa, as well as Beant Singh's grandson Ravneet Singh Bittu, are among the candidates for Mr Singh's replacement.
Mr Singh's departure had been all but declared by Sunil Jakhar just hours before. "Rahul Gandhi deserves credit for using the Alexandrian solution to this Punjabi variant of the Gordian knot. Surprisingly, this brave leadership decision to overcome the Punjab Congress crisis has not only enthralled Congress workers, but has also sent shivers down Akalis' spines "Mr Jakhar put out a tweet.
The Punjab crisis has gotten much worse as a result of the Chief Minister's ongoing conflict with Navjot Sidhu. Despite the Chief Minister's vehement opposition, the party selected Navjot Sidhu as Punjab chief in July, but the enmity remained just beneath the surface.
The truce started unravelling with a row over advisers appointed by Mr Sidhu and their controversial statements, which Mr Singh publicly condemned. Last month, four ministers and around two dozen party legislators raised fresh complaints against Amarinder Singh, telling the leadership that they had no faith in his ability to honour poll promises.