What has gone wrong between Modi and Amarinder



Chandigarh, March 4: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is the one ‘autonomous leader’ in the Congress who has been coming to the rescue of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the crucial moments. And yet he has not been spared by Modi with whom he seemed to be having relations more congenial than the prime minister had with Parkash Singh Badal. Something seems to have definitely gone wrong somewhere.


It may be mentioned that  Modi last evening took a pot shot at the Congress saying that Capt Amarinder Singh and the Congress (Read Rahul Gandhi) don’t own each other. He used the term “swatantar fauji” for Capt Amarinder Singh.


Modi was addressing the BJP activists at the party office after the party swept out the Left in Tripura in a victory that is spectacular. He attacked the Congress as the party that was getting phased out. It was in this context that he referred to Capt Amarinder Singh as autonomous unit.


It was Capt Amarinder Singh who had come to the rescue of the Modi government when the army action in using a Kashmiri as human shield by parading him tied to the bonnet of the jeep had evoked strong reaction from every liberal mind in the country. The army was about to order probe and action going by the newspaper report when Amarinder came out in defence of the army action in an edit page article in The Indian Express. The Modi government had been saved from huge embarrassment. It was perceived to be the reaction of an ex-serviceman. However, it was perhaps more than that.


It was again Capt Amarinder Singh who did not join his party chorus initially in launching tirade against the GST. One has to list similar other cases.


Capt Amarinder Singh is one chief minister who is known to have access to Modi that even his predecessor Parkash Singh Badal did not enjoy despite the Akali Dal being the alliance partner of the BJP.


It is also a known fact that Capt Amarinder Singh is known to act from his own instincts rather than seeking orders from his high command on each and every issue.


At one level, Modi was not much off the mark on his comment of ‘swatantar fauji’ but the sting was more on the Congress.


It may be recalled that Capt Amarinder Singh is among those in the country who maintain personal relationship with Sonia Gandhi. He was close to her husband Rajiv Gandhi. It is more of a relationship between the Gandhi family and the Patiala Royals.


Modi’s sting has triggered more gossip in social circles than in the political in view of the earlier ‘cordial’ relationship.


That Capt Amarinder Singh was stung deeply was evident from his immediate reaction. However, the reaction from his state Congress chief Sunil Jakhar today is at a different level. He defended ‘autonomous functioning’ of Capt Amarinder Singh in a positive way saying the Congress is not dictatorial unlike the BJP.


The race for 2019 Lok Sabha election is already on. On agenda of Sangh Parivar is complete decimation of the Congress.


But that is a different issue.


Something seems to have gone wrong between Capt Amarinder Singh and Modi.


It could be that the BJP would continue to be in alliance with the Akali Dal. The perception in the Akali Dal has been that BJP was looking for a strong Sikh face in Punjab. The Modi government has not exempted even the Golden Temple langar items from GST, a demand that has repeatedly been raised by the Akali Dal and the SGPC.


Jagtar Singh


[email protected]

Read more