‘Solve farmers’ issue first then seek support’: Divided political groups tell Capt Amarinder

Former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh may be busy working out the contours of his new political outfit, but his biggest challenge to make a significant impact in the electoral battle will be to find a solution to the nearly year-long farmers’ agitation. Amarinder on Wednesday held his first press conference after leaving the chief minister’s post. Despite claiming that a large number of disgruntled Congress leaders were in touch with him, no leader had so far at least publicly expressed support for the former chief minister.

No Congress leader was seen in today’s meeting also. Not only the Congress but the Captain is trying to woo the small broken factions of the mainstream parties. However, soon after the press conference, Shiromani Akali Dal (United) party leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa clarified that he had not spoken to Amarinder. Dhindsa said that first the problems of the farmers should be resolved before the elections.

Even Congress insiders said that in order to engage the people with him, the Capt would have to find ways to resolve the farm turmoil. Sources close to the former CM revealed that considering the gravity of the issue, resolution efforts were high on his agenda. Amarinder said he is discussing various options with Home Minister Amit Shah, whom he will meet again in Delhi on Thursday, and others.

“I think I can help solve this because I have been the Chief Minister of Punjab and I am also a farmer,” Captain Amarinder Singh told a press conference. Though there cannot be any pre-determined formula to resolve the farmers’ agitation, something will emerge during the talks as both the sides (central government and farmers) want a solution to the crisis arising out of agricultural laws, he said.

Clarifying that he has not met any farmer leader, the former chief minister said he deliberately did not interfere in the matter as farmers do not want politicians to get involved. He said that four incomplete meetings of farmer leaders were held with the Centre, but back channel talks are going on.

He had earlier said that any seat arrangement he made with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would be subject to the resolution of the farmers’ issue in his interest.

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