It is virtually certain that former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh is all set to merge his Lok Congress with the Bharatiya Janata Party at a function to be held in the capital. It effectively means that the BJP is keen that the Captain’s stature and image as one of the most successful Chief Ministers, after Pratap Singh Kairon, would help the saffron brigade in the 2024 Parliamentary polls.
It is well known that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is now preparing for the Lok Sabha elections and it is in pursuance of a well thought out strategy that a few days ago, the Captain had a one-on-one meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah.
While the assurances given to the erstwhile Maharaja of Patiala by Shah are not in public domain, it is evident that the BJP wants to reconnect with the masses in Punjab, and there can be no better person than the Captain to help them carry forward this agenda as also counter both the Congress and the AAP.
The unceremonious exit engineered by the Congress high command to relieve Amarinder Singh of his position last year, boomeranged on the grand old party, that not only lost power to the AAP, but also lost some of its leaders, who have now migrated to the BJP.
The supreme irony for few of the former Congressmen, who joined the BJP without taking the Captain into confidence, and thus leaving him to fend for himself, is that they shall all now have to once again play second fiddle to the former CM, who enjoys the confidence of the central leadership.
The list of Congressmen who are in the BJP is long and includes Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, Kewal Singh Dhillon, Sunil Jakhar, Balbir Sidhu and Arvind Khanna. All of them were at some stage very close to the former CM and shall be assigned roles that may be secondary to the Captain’s in Punjab.
The BJP has obviously thought through its blueprint. The Captain shares the saffron brigade’s narrative of nationalism and has always held the security and safety of both his state and the country above everything else. Thus, when the BJP is facing criticism for the Agniveer policy and its failed farm laws, the Captain can provide a positive tilt due to his unimpeachable credentials, both as a soldier and a nationalist.
It is significant to mention that the Captain’s late father, Yadvinder Singh and Maharaja Sadul Singh of Bikaner were the most prominent movers of accession to India in the Council of Princely States. In fact, when Kashmir was invaded by Pakistan sponsored tribals, it was the Army from Patiala which reached there even before the Indian Army arrived.
It was because of the efforts made by Yadvinder Singh and Sadul Singh, Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s plan of taking over territory till Sutlej was foiled and the two erstwhile Kings convinced Lord Mountbatten to allow Ferozepur and Zira tehsils as also the Gurdaspur district, all Muslim majority regions to remain in India.
The Princes of some places in Rajasthan had also expressed their desire to go towards Pakistan, but Sadul Singh and Yadvinder Singh made sure that they finally acceded to India and helped Sardar Patel and V.P. Menon to accomplish the unifying task in order to foil Jinnah’s larger conspiracy.
Ferozepur and other regions of Punjab remained in India, because Lord Mountbatten intervened and asked Radcliff to take the concerns of the two Maharajas into consideration. It had been earlier conveyed to the British that Ferozepur going the other way would impact the Ganga canal and assist Pakistan.
Therefore, when the Captain, who witnessed the Indo-Pakistan 1965 war from close quarters, being the ADC to legendary General Harbaksh Singh, the Western Commander, takes up a position on national matters, his word really counts.
The BJP is keen that the right message goes amongst the Sikhs, the youth in particular, that the saffron brigade wanted to help them and not oppose them, an impression, which was sought to be created during the farmers’ stir. Recently, a senior officer had recommended that recruitment of Army personnel from Punjab should be put in abeyance and other regions should be encouraged.
The Army headquarters, aware of the sacrifice and bravery of the Sikhs and Punjabis, immediately issued a clarification stating that there was going to be no such move now or in the future. The bureaucracy in the state has always cooperated with the Army since their take is that if they are able to sleep peacefully at night, it is only because of the soldiers.
Despite losing his own election from Patiala, a few months ago, the Captain still has an aura which can perhaps lift the BJP from its present state to a bigger role in the future. It is being speculated that his wife, Mrs Preneet Kaur, who is the Congress Lok Sabha member from Patiala, and another prominent MP known for his views on nationalism, could move towards the BJP, before the 2024 polls.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that the Captain’s daughter could be the BJP nominee from Patiala at that time though no formal announcement has been made.
Many of the former CM’s supporters believe that he may be inducted in the Rajya Sabha and given an important position in the Union Cabinet. There are also other conjectures. But one thing is certain, that his presence in the electoral arena, shall hurt the Congress immensely and also affect the AAP. Between us.