Punjab Assembly Elections 2022: Punjab Lok Congress of Captain Amarinder Singh

 - Sakshi Post

Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) is a newly founded regional political party, in Punjab founded by Amarinder Singh on 2 November 2021 after he resigned as Chief Minister of Punjab and quit the Indian National Congress.  On 17th December PLC became a part of an alliance with BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal(Sanyukat). Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukat) was formed following a split in Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) Punjab. In the forthcoming Assembly elections, BJP is contesting from this alliance for 65 seats, PLC for 37 seats, and Shiromani Akali Dal(Sanyukat) for 15 seats.  Before knowing the performance of the Punjab Lok Congress (PL) in these Assembly elections, it is important to know the history of Captain Amarinder Singh and Patiala Princely State.

Patiala princely state was one of the largest, wealthiest, and most populated states of PhulkianMissal. Patiala State was established by Baba Ala Singh in 1973. During the third battle of Panipat in 1761, firstly Baba Ala Singh joined the Marathas against Afghans, which was led by Ahmad Shah Abdali. But when Marathas were defeated by the Afghans, on March 29, 1761, Raja Ala Singh appeared in the court of Ahmad Shah and apologized to him for this mistake. Hereafter, the rulers of Patiala began to acquire the advantage of royalty. After Aurangzeb, when the Mughal Empire weakened, the British set foot in Punjab. Patiala rulers joined hands with the British against Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1808. Thereafter, Patiala came under a subsidiary alliance system. During the Indian Mutiny of 1857, Maharaja Narindera Singh offered assistance to the East India Company and his services were later acknowledged by Lord Canning as being of incalculable value.  In 1862, Maharaja Banaras and Sir Dinkar Rao, along with Maharaja Narinder Singh of Patiala, were elected by Viceroy Lord Cunningham to his Legislative Council as a reward. 

During the First World War the princely states, including Patiala. Kapurthala and Faridkot contributed 50,000 soldiers to help the British army. Maharaja Yadvindra Singh was among those Indian princes who, readily came forward to sign the Instrument of Accession, thus facilitating the process of national integration. In recognition of his services, he was appointed the Rajpramukh of the newly established state of PEPSU. Therefore, the rulers of Patiala such as Karam Singh, Narinder Singh, Mahendra Singh, Rajinder Singh, Bhupinder Singh, and Yadvindra Singh were always treated with respect and dignity by the British for their loyalty towards the British Umpire.

Captain Amarinder Singh is the son of the last Maharaja of Patiala State, Yadavindra Singh. Captain Amarinder Singh served in the Indian Army from 1963 to 1966. He started his political carrier when he was inducted into the Congress by Rajiv Gandhi, who was his friend from school and was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980. He resigned from Parliament and from Congress in 1984, as a protest against the Army action on the Golden Temple during Operation Blue Star. Subsequently, he joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and was elected to the state legislature from Talwandi Sabo and became a minister in the state government for Agriculture, Forest, Development, and Panchayats. 

Again in 1992 he quit the Shiromani Akali Dal and formed a splinter group named Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic). His party had to face a crushing defeat in the Vidhan Sabha election in which he himself was defeated from his own constituency where he got only 856 votes. Again, he merged his party with the Indian National Congress in 1998. 

Captain Amarinder Singh got a highly powerful position in the Congress party of Punjab and he served as the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee on three occasions from 1999 to 2002, 2010 to 2013, and 2015 to 2017. He also became Chief Minister of Punjab in the 2002 Assembly Elections. In March 2017, Congress Party won the State Assembly Elections under his leadership and Amarinder Singh was sworn as the 26th Chief Minister of Punjab. Because of the internal leadership competition in the Punjab Congress and the failure of the government to meet with its promises
made by them in the election campaign, the position of Captain Amarinder Singh got weakened day by day in his own party.

On 18 September 2021, he resigned as the Chief Minister of Punjab according to the decision of Congress high command, and a few days later he resigned also from the Indian National Congress and formed a new political party Punjab Lok Congress (PLC). PLC is fighting the election from 37 seats out of the total 117 seats as part of its alliance with BJP and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukat). Of the 37 seats of PLC, 26 are from the Malwa region, seven are from the Majha region whereas four seats are from the Doaba region. 22 candidates announced so far by the PLC and Captain himself is fighting from his home constituency Patiala Urban.

Although defection and merger among political parties is the significant trend in the overall political system of India, historical trends bear witness to the fact that the state of Patiala has always accepted the subjugation of the powerful in order to stay in power. The formation of the Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) may repeat the history of 1992.  Captain Amarinder Singh may lose again with a big margin.  The entire alliance, including his party, is not in a position to win. But this alliance may get a significant share of its fixed vote. These trends may led to the merger of Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) with BJP in the future.

(Jaspreet Kaur)

Read More:

Back to Top