Captain Amarinder Singh has set the Punjab political cauldron on fire again after he made an announcement on Tuesday that he would soon announce his own political party and will look for an alliance with like-minded parties in the upcoming state Assembly elections.
On Tuesday evening, the former Punjab chief minister said, "The battle for Punjab's future is on. Will soon announce the launch of my own political party to serve the interests of Punjab and its people, including our farmers who've been fighting for their survival for over a year."
He also said he will not rest until he secures the future of "my people and my state".
The Captain also said that he would consider a "seat arrangement" with the Bharatiya Janata Party if the farmers' protest is resolved in farmers' interest and breakaway Akali groups particularly Dhindsa and Brahmpura factions.
‘Hopeful of a seat arrangement with @BJP4India in 2022 Punjab Assembly polls if #FarmersProtest is resolved in farmers’ interest. Also looking at alliance with like-minded parties such as breakaway Akali groups, particularly Dhindsa &
Brahmpura factions’: @capt_amarinder 2/3 https://t.co/rkYhk4aE9Y
— Raveen Thukral (@RT_Media_Capt) October 19, 2021
How does this play out in Punjab which will go to the polls next year?
Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Ranjit Singh Brahmpura were expelled from the Shiromani Akali Dal in February last year.
The two Akali breakaways, then came together in May this year and formed the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukat).
The new political outfit was formed after the dissolution of the former Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali), formed by Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and Shiromani Akali (Democratic) launched by Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.
Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa is the president of the new political party while Ranjit Singh Brahmpura will be its patron.
The two leaders were expelled from the Shiromani Akali Dal after they expressed their displeasure of its handling of the sacrilege cases and the pardon granted to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim, which was rescinded. It is important to note that the Dera head has now been sentenced to life imprisonment for the 2002 murder of his employee Ranjit Singh.
Dhindsa had also objected to Sukhbir Badal’s style of leadership.
What kind of political sway do the breakaway factions hold
The Dhindsa family has a respective core support in the Sangrur, Barnala and Patiala districts of Malwa region.
Moreover, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukat) has a strong hold in the Majha region — which accounts for 25 Assembly seats in the 117-member Vidhan Sabha.
In fact, Majha region is credited with helping the Shiromani Akali Dal form the government in 2007 wresting the power from Congress led by Captain Amarinder Singh.
Its importance was recognised in the 2017 elections when the Congress won 22 of the 25 seats in the region and eventually won the state.
Experts note that in this area, Hindu and Sikh voters often voted en masse for a party or an alliance for their own reasons, making it crucial for the upcoming elections.
Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, who represented the Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha constituency, also wields influence in this area.
Khadoor Sahib is an important Sikh holy center and the area has a number of deras, babas and important gurdwaras. It is for this very reason, that voters prefer panthic or Akali candidates, which will favour people such as Ranjit Singh Brahmpura.
Captain Amarinder Singh’s chances
By tying up with the Akali breakaway factions, Amarinder's new party only stands to gain. However, it won't be easy as the two have always been on opposite sides.
Moreover, Amarinder's new party could help the BJP make in-roads into the state and will also dent the Congress, who is trying everything to make sure they retain power in the state.
As observers noted earlier that the Captain’s resignation is an unexpected opportunity for the BJP to lift its head in a state where it has so far been unable to stand on its own.
As the situation keeps unfolding in Punjab, all we know is that the 2022 election will be nothing short of a potboiler.
With inputs from agencies