BJP ‘Non-entity’ in Punjab, Says CM Amarinder Singh

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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday dismissed the BJP as a non-entity in the state and said it will not be able to win a single seat without an alliance partner in the 2022 assembly elections. During a function organised by a private TV channel in Chandigarh, the chief minister said the BJP is welcome to contest all 117 Vidhan Sabha seats in the state though the party would not be able to win a single seat without an alliance partner. BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh earlier this week had said that his party had started preparations on a war footing to contest all 117 Vidhan Sabha seats in Punjab.

Nearly two months ago, the Shiromani Akali Dal, an old ally of the BJP, had quit the NDA over the Centre’s farm laws. As per the seat-sharing formula which existed when the BJP and the SAD, the saffron party used to field its candidates on three of the 13 parliamentary seats and 23 of 117 assembly segments in Punjab. The rest were kept for the SAD.

The Congress has, in fact, no challenge in Punjab, with even the Akalis and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) posing no threat, Amarinder Singh said, adding that none of the parties ever “talked about anything positive in the interest of the state”. With elections in the state still around 18 months away, it is not possible to say which issue will dominate, Amarinder Singh said in a statement.

The CM expressed hope that the Centre will resolve farmers’ grievances soon. Farmers want the minimum support price to remain and the Government of India should take steps to ensure that, he said. The chief minister reiterated that corporates are welcome to buy foodgrain in Punjab as long as they follow the existing marketing system, built on close ties between farmers and arhtiyas (commission agents). He rejected the BJP charge that the Congress and other parties are misguiding farmers, pointing out that the entire Vidhan Sabha in Punjab had unanimously rejected the farm laws though some parties had subsequently made a U-turn due to political compulsions. On the issue of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee elections, the chief minister said he had been demanding it for long but the Akalis did not want polls to the body, which they had been “using” for their own political gains.

The CM said his government will not allow the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into his state without permission while citing the central investigating agency’s poor track record in the Bargari sacrilege case. Pointing out that eight states, including Punjab, had withdrawn approval to the agency to enter without prior permission, the CM said the CBI is being increasingly used to play politics.

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