The 79-year-old Amarinder Singh, one of the Congress’ powerful regional satraps, put in his papers after speaking to party president Sonia Gandhi and shortly before a crucial meeting of the Congress Legislature Party(CLP) in Chandigarh in the evening. He later launched a no-holds-barred attack against Navjot Singh Sidhu, describing his bete noire, a cricketer-turned-politician, as a “total disaster”.
Besides Sidhu, among the names doing the rounds as Amarinder Singh’s replacement included former PCC chiefs Sunil Jakhar and Pratap Bajwa and state ministers Sukhjinder Randhawa, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria and Tript Rajinder Bajwa. Punjab always had a Sikh CM after the reorganisation of the state in 1966. A resolution passed unanimously at the CLP meeting authorised Sonia Gandhi to pick its new leader. Over 50 MLAs in the party had written to Sonia Gandhi seeking that Amarinder Singh be replaced as CM, a move that capped months of a fractious feud between him and Navjot Singh Sidhu who was recently made state Congress president much against the senior leader’s wishes.
“I spoke to the Congress president in the morning and I told her that I am resigning today,” Amarinder Singh told reporters outside the Punjab Raj Bhavan after submitting his resignation to Governor Banwarilal Purohit. “They called the MLAs to Delhi twice and now convened a CLP in Chandigarh today,” he said. “I think if there is an element of doubt on me that I could not run (the government), I feel humiliated the way things have happened.”