Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh said on Tuesday that he did not know if he was the Chief Ministerial candidate and that it was up to party President Sonia Gandhi to decide. Singh was interacting with the media in his hometown Patiala before filing his nomination papers for the Patiala Urban assembly seat for the February 4 assembly election.
“I don’t know (if I am the Chief Ministerial candidate). That’s up to the Congress President,” Singh said.
He explained his absence in the national capital when cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu joined the party. Explaining his “conspicuous absence”, Singh said: “Should I be there (in Delhi) or campaign in Punjab? I have just 12-14 days left (for campaigning). “The whole campaign is on me, why are you asking this question,” he said.
The party’s Punjab chief refuted any “deal” with the former cricketer. He said talks with Sidhu were on for quite some time. Singh said: “There is no deal (with Sidhu). Congress does not do deals with anyone. Navjot (Sidhu) wanted to join the Congress. There were talks going on for some time. I also met him three-four times.”
Sidhu, like Singh, hails from Patiala city even though he was elected to the Lok Sabha thrice from Amritsar on a Bharatiya Janata Party’s ticket. “His (Sidhu’s) father (Bhagwant Singh) was a Congressman. He was the district general secretary of the Congress (in Patiala) when my mother was the district president,” the former Punjab Chief Minister said.
“He never said he will get an important assignment (if the Congress forms the government). He has said it is home coming for him.”
Singh said he was contesting from both Patiala Urban and Lambi because he started his political career from Patiala, 80 km from Chandigarh, and wanted to end it there. “This is my last election… In Lambi I am challenging (Chief Minister Parkash Singh) Badal… I want to teach a lesson to the people (of Badal family) who have looted Punjab.”
He again asked Delhi Chief Minister and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal to contest from Patiala. The fight in Punjab involves the ruling Akali Dal-BJP alliance, which has been in power since 2007, the Congress and the AAP.