Chandigarh: Hours after Congress leader Harish Rawat questioned his secular credentials in no-holds-barred attack, former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said Friday it was prompted by the ‘pathetic situation’ the party has now found itself. “Three weeks before stepping down as CM, I had offered my resignation to Sonia Gandhi but she had asked me to continue,” said Amarinder Singh in a statement here. He ridiculed Rawat’s remarks that he seemed to be under pressure.
The former chief minister said the only pressure he had been under for the past few months was that of his own loyalty to the Congress. It was because of this loyalty he continued to tolerate insult after insult.
Punjab Congress in-charge Rawat had Friday, in a press conference in Dehradun, countered Amarinder and said that the Punjab leader must reject any attempt by the BJP if they try to make him their mask in the state. He also said Amarinder’s ‘proximity’ with BJP leaders like Amit Shah puts a question mark on his secular credentials.
Reacting to Rawat’s remarks, Amarinder said even his worst critics and enemies could not doubt his integrity in this regard.
“But I am no longer surprised that a senior and seasoned Congress leader like Rawat is questioning my secular credentials. It is quite evident that I am no longer trusted and respected in the party that I have served loyally all these years,” Amarinder said. “Such remarks are prompted by the pathetic situation the party has now found itself in Punjab after being on a winning spree for four-and-a-half years,” added the former CM.
Amarinder added that the humiliating manner in which he was pushed into resigning just hours before the CLP meeting that was clearly convened to oust him, was a matter of public record. “The world saw the humiliation and the insult heaped on me. Yet Mr Rawat is making claims to the contrary. If this was not humiliation then what was it?” asked Amarinder. Rawat, he said, should put himself in his shoes, and then, perhaps, ‘he would realise how insulting the entire affair was’.
Amarinder recalled that Rawat himself had publicly stated after meeting him that he was satisfied by his (Amarinder Singh) government’s track record on the 2017 poll promises. In fact, Rawat had categorically stated, as recently as September 1, that the 2022 elections would be fought under his (Singh’s) leadership and the high command had no intention of replacing him, Rawat had pointed out.
“So, how can he now claim that the party leadership was dissatisfied with me, and if they were, then why did he deliberately keep me in the dark all this time?” Amarinder asked.
“If the party did not intend to humiliate him then why was Navjot Singh Sidhu allowed to openly criticise and attack on social media and other public platforms for months? Why did the party give the rebels, led by Sidhu, a free hand in undermining my authority?” Amarinder further stated.
Amarinder also asked why the Congress was still allowing Sidhu even now to hold the party to ‘ransom and continue to dictate terms’. “What is the pressure he exerts on the party leadership that they are so defenseless against him and are allowing him to have his way even to the cost of the Congress’ future in Punjab?” he asked.