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Explained: Why did Captain Amarinder Singh step down as Punjab Chief Minister?

06:59 PM Sep 18, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday stepped down from his post after months of political tussle with his bete noire and PCC president Navjot Singh Sidhu. Speaking to reporters after submitting his resignation to Governor Banwari Lal Purohit, Singh said he had been "humiliated thrice" and that the Congress is free to "appoint whoever they trust".

"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 in Chandigarh today," said Singh, adding that he had decided and informed Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the morning that he would resign.

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"Apparently they (Congress high command) 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," he said. Taking a dig at the Congress leadership, Singh said, "Let them appoint who they trust."

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However, Singh made it clear that he would explore and exercise his future options when the time comes. He said he would decide his future political course of action in consultation with his supporters who have stood by him for over five decades. "There is always an option, and I will use that option when the time comes...at the moment I am still in Congress," he said.

This came after Over 50 Congress legislators from Punjab wrote to party president Sonia Gandhi seeking that Amarinder Singh be replaced as chief minister, highly placed party sources told news agency PTI.

Sources said the crisis was "serious" with several many MLAs seeking the chief minister's replacement just a few months ahead of assembly elections in Punjab.

For the unversed, Sidhu has been at loggerheads with Singh ever since he quit the Punjab cabinet as a minister in 2019. He had become more vocal in his views in the last some months.

Later, a committee headed by Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge submitted a report on the squabbling and recommended keeping Singh in command but to accommodate Sidhu by giving him a role in the state unit. Sidhu was then appointed as PCC chief, however, this only pushed Singh further away as the crickter-turned-politician apparently had the backing of the high command.

Meanwhile, according to an Indian Express article, the Congress MLAs had raised a banner against Singh because of his inaccessibility. Reportedly, he had stopped going to the Punjab civil secretariat in Chandigarh and had moved his residence from the city to a farmhouse on the outskirts. The party legislators also complained that the government was being run by bureaucrats. Moreover, the party's external survey found that Singh's popularity had waned. The recently released ABP-CVoter-IANS opinion poll was apparently the final nail in the coffin. The polls predicted a hung Assembly in Punjab, with AAP emerging as the single largest party in the state in the 2022 state polls.

(With input from agencies)

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