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Sidhu anti-national, dangerous, total disaster: Amarinder Singh

CHANDIGARH: Hours after quitting as Punjab CM, Congress leader Amarinder Singh on Saturday launched a no-holds-barred attack against state party chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, calling him "anti-national", "dangerous" and a "total disaster".

The Congress veteran also said he won''t accept Sidhu as the next chief minister or the party face in the upcoming Assembly polls.

Speaking during a series of media interactions after putting in his papers, Singh made it clear that he had no intention of quitting politics.

He dubbed Sidhu as "anti-national, dangerous, unstable, incompetent" and even a security threat to the state and the country.

He will fight "tooth and nail" any move to make the Punjab Congress president as the chief minister of Punjab, he said.

Singh said there was no question of supporting the state Congress chief, alleging he "is clearly mixed up with Pakistan and a danger, as well as a disaster, for Punjab and the country".

"I cannot allow such a man to destroy us. I will continue to fight the issues that are bad for the state and its people," said Amarinder Singh lashing out at Sidhu for his "close alliance with the leadership across the border".

"We have all seen Sidhu hugging (Pakistan prime minister) Imran Khan and (Pak Army chief) General Bajwa (three years ago during a trip to that country), and singing praises for the Pakistan PM at the opening of the Kartarpur corridor while our soldiers were being killed at the borders every day," he said, as per a statement, pointing out that Sidhu had attended Imran''s swearing-in even after he (Amarinder) categorically told him not to.

"The government of Punjab means the security of India and if Sidhu is made the face of the Congress for chief ministership, I will oppose it tooth and nail," he added.

Amarinder, who has been asked by the Governor to continue in office as chief minister till alternative arrangements are made, said Sidhu could never be a good leader for Punjab.

"He is a total disaster. When he was a (Punjab) minister (in Amarinder cabinet), he could not even run one ministry, now can he run entire Punjab? I know that man has no capability at all," said Amarinder Singh.

There was no question of backing an "incompetent" man whom he had removed from his cabinet, he said, adding that as a local government minister, Sidhu failed to clear files for seven months.

The Congress leader ruled out leaving politics and said as an Army man, he has a lot of will and will remain active in the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab.

"I am not hanging my boots," he declared, reiterating that he will decide on his future course of action after talking to people close to him, including MLAs of the Congress.

The leader claimed that he had himself asked MLAs who were supporting him to attend the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meet and the presence of a large number of legislators at the meeting did not mean they were supporting Sidhu.

Rejecting claims by the Congress leadership that he had lost the confidence of the MLAs, Amarinder Singh termed it a lame excuse.

"Just a week ago, I had sent to Sonia Gandhi a list of 63 MLAs who were supporting me," he said, adding that MLAs usually respond to what they think Delhi wants, which was the case at the CLP meeting too.

In any case, it is not possible to make all MLAs happy, he added.

Pointing to the sweeping wins by the Congress under his leadership since 2017, Amarinder said he failed to understand the decision to replace him.

"The people of Punjab were clearly happy with my government," he said, adding that till three-four months ago, the tide was completely in favour of the Congress in Punjab but "they have cut their nose to spite their face and ended up from a winning to a losing position".

He expressed pain and shock at the way he was humiliated into quitting.

"Even today, I was not informed about the CLP meeting even though I was the leader. The way everyone was called in the night and informed about the meeting, it was clear they wanted to remove me as CM," he added.

He said he felt sad and humiliated that his contribution to the state was not recognised and he had been misread despite having done the best for it, including on sacrilege and drugs issues.

Amarinder Singh said even after the leadership change in the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, he had not expected to be humiliated in this manner "perhaps because of my association with Sonia Gandhi and her children".

He definitely felt let down, he said, adding that he failed to understand the party''s objective in letting him go after his success in governing the state for nine-and-a-half years.

"Punjab has been doing so well in every sphere. I do not understand why the party felt the need to make a change," he added.

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PTI