Pakistani journalist and Captain Amarinder Singh’s long-time companion, Aroosa Alam, has needlessly jumped into the political quagmire of Punjab politics by granting interviews wherein she has described Congress leaders opposed to the former Chief Minister as “hyenas”.
The Captain is an erstwhile soldier and a man of stature, capable of defending himself and this kind of intervention from across the border is totally uncalled for. By stating that she and Amarinder were soulmates and not lovers she has damaged him inadvertently.
Without being judgemental, her relationship with the Captain is totally personal and there is no need to make a public display of this mutual affection when the border state is witnessing acute social unrest due to the ongoing farmers’ agitation with no solution in sight.
The Captain’s team should also act in a more responsible manner and it was absolutely out of context that photographs of the Pakistani journalist were released showing her with various leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj, Mulayam Singh Yadav, besides Dilip Kumar and Shatrughan Sinha. The caption under the photos was that, are they also ISI agents?
This was probably a response designed to counter the allegations made by Deputy Chief Minister, Sukhjinder Randhawa and Navjot Kaur Sidhu that Aroosa’s role in Punjab should be probed to ascertain whether she was working for the Inter State Intelligence (ISI).
While it is for the authorities to go into this complex question, Aroosa’s photos with leaders cannot in any manner be compared to her association with the Captain. Any visiting person likes to get himself or herself photographed with dignitaries and the photos cannot be interpreted otherwise, unless there is corroborative evidence to substantiate the claim. So far as the former CM is concerned, she was his friend and lived with him in his official residence for a number of years.
It is true that successive governments gave visa to her to travel to specific locations in India as is done in case of any Pakistani visiting the country and no one should insinuate about her alleged association with the ISI unless there is supporting proof to back it.
The attack by Randhawa and Mrs Sidhu was essentially political to unsettle the Captain, who has been making accusations against some of his erstwhile colleagues in the Congress. In any case, this kind of a personal matter should not have been brought in public domain but since it has now become a no-holds barred battle, a lot of slanderous stuff is going to fly all around.
On her part, Aroosa should not interfere in the political process of this country and refrain from calling the Captain’s detractors all kinds of names. She was a power centre in Punjab and wielded a lot of influence over the decision makers because of her proximity to the former CM. There were also photographs of her with various officials which have in the past been circulated on the social media.
Punjab goes to polls in about three months and the model code of conduct shall come into force by December end. The political battle should be fought keeping certain norms in mind and must not create a vicious atmosphere which would be difficult to clean up even after the outcome is known.
The Captain has already declared that he was forming his own party and had arrived in the national capital to have talks with the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah. The meeting slated for Thursday could not take place since Shah had to leave for Ahmedabad in connection with a party function. The stated agenda of the meeting was to take up the farmers’ demands, while obviously when two politicians meet, other things also get discussed.
The Captain has indicated that he could have a tie-up with the BJP in the state as also with the splinter groups of the Akalis. However, there needs to be greater clarity on this subject. It is evident that the BJP, if it decides to get into an electoral alliance with Amarinder, would also have to fund the joint political venture.
There has been speculation in the Chandigarh media that the Congress was making attempts to pacify him so that he remains with the grand old party and does not cross over. This appears to be totally speculative since there is no way Amarinder can stick to the Congress, particularly with his bête noire Navjot Singh Sidhu as the Pradesh president. Otherwise also he has taken a stance which has distanced him from the Gandhis.
The Congress is in a damage control mode and after receiving reports that some of the ministers who were dropped from the Cabinet this time, could go with the Captain, decided to summon all of them to Delhi where Rahul Gandhi gave them assurance that their contributions were of immense value.
Otherwise too, majority of the senior leaders would not gravitate towards Amarinder or his new party unless they are denied Congress tickets. Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Balbir Sidhu and others have their own work to speak for in their respective constituencies and the Congress shall not allow them to go anywhere.
The state Congress leadership should concentrate on the tasks ahead in order to consolidate the party’s position instead of launching personal attacks on the Captain. After the late Pratap Singh Kairon, Amarinder has been the most astute and perceptive leader in the state. The fight should never be personal but political. Between us.