This is curtains for the Patiala Royal brand of politics in Punjab
Patiala With the resignation of Capt Amarinder Singh as Chief Minister of the Punjab, these are also curtains for the political brand Patiala Royal, which had its own attraction and admirers, whether the two-time CM was in power or not. For two decades, the Punjab has seen the Patiala Royals maintain an important connection to power.
The captain’s wife, Preneet Kaur, has been a Member of Parliament four times; the mother was a former Member of Parliament; he was himself a Member of Parliament and Minister of State. Since 1998, the politics of the Punjab Congress have been controlled from its new Moti Bagh palace in the city. This was when he joined the party, after resigning in protest against Operation Bluestar in 1984.
Since then, Capt’s weight has resulted in nearly two dozen of his lieutenants from Patiala being appointed chairman, vice chairman of major state government enterprises.
A veteran, politician, military historian, author and shooter, Amarinder wears many hats. In politics, the elders say he has a habit of reinventing himself and making his comeback. His leadership caught the country’s attention when he got the Punjab assembly to unilaterally enact the controversial 2004 Termination of Water Agreements Law in Punjab, against his party’s will. When asked to prove himself, he challenged and won against BJP heavyweight Arun Jaitley. Since then he has also been nicknamed the “Savior of River Waters”.
He had the Badals jailed in a corruption case, which failed in court. Later, when the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) came to power, he was convicted in the same case.
During his long political innings, Amarinder ensured that no President of the Punjab Congress could work independently, be it Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Shamsher Singh Dullo, Partap Singh Bajwa or others. His close associates Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa have carried out major coups against the heads of the Congress of States.
These leaders, however, turned against their political master when he failed to act on their demands for justice in cases of sacrilege; the abolition of power purchase agreements (PPA) and action against the drug mafia.
Amarinder still remains the greatest head of state, but this time, perhaps, he could find himself on his own. His inability to respond to allegations of matching deals with the Badals has also been a great loss.
Narinder Dogra, former head of the political science department at the University of Punjabi, said: “Amarinder has lost his credibility for ignoring the leaders who are loyal to him. With age, resurgence is very difficult. No one else in the royal family can match his abilities.
Congressional leaders in Patiala agreed, but claimed it was bureaucracy that tarnished Capt.
Dogra added that over-reliance on bureaucracy and the inability to work out issues with CPC Chairman Navjot Singh Sidhu contributed to Amarinder’s downfall.
“With Amarinder and not the CM, the development of the city will be affected. Patiala will lose a say in decision-making in Congress, ”said Navtej Singh, a Congress leader from Patiala.