Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is also a military historian and served in the Indian Army from 1963 to 1966 after graduating from National Defense Academy (NDA) and Indian Military Academy (IMA). The Captain in the Chief Minister often finds him speaking on defence matters. At an Indian Express event recently, he was as usual blunt as he let it be known that a war with China, if at all, will be two-pronged with Pakistan joining it.
The politician in the Captain also took up the recent Congress crisis, emphasising that discipline is the key to resolving issues.
“Mark my words, any war with China will be a collusive one, with Pakistan as well,” Amarinder said on Wednesday. However, he had something to complain about: “The Mountain Strike Corps, planned to deal with China, is yet to be fully functional. And now we have had to take formations from other commands and send them to block the areas in Ladakh.”
The Mountain Strike Corps was sanctioned seven years ago, but stalled for lack of funds. It has raised only one of its two divisions. The truncated force was tested for the Army’s new integrated battle group concept. “The preliminary role of the strike corps is for offensive purposes not only to the country’s east, but in Ladakh as well,” said a military official.
In a press conference on June 30, Amarinder chastised the ruling BJP over the face-off with China at Galwan in eastern Ladakh. “We have won the previous wars of 1948, ’65, ’71 and 1999. And now it’s their turn to respond to the Chinese incursion,” he said.
“Galwan is not the first time. I am sure the government of India is taking military precautions. I think we need to be very cautious about their intentions of closing the gap between Aksai Chin and Siachen, cutting of India’s access in that region.”
Referring to a letter written by over 20 prominent Congress leaders demanding an organizational recast, Amarinder called for discipline at senior levels in the party. In the so-called vertical split in the party between ‘reformers’ and ‘loyalists’, Amarinder falls in the latter category, and had responded strongly to the letter at the CWC’s virtual meeting, making it clear that the Gandhis were the central to Congress.
“I am the Chief Minister, I am looking after the government. I have Sunil Jakhar, who is my PPCC chief. He has to maintain discipline in the party. If we tell our Youth Congress and other leaders to maintain discipline, but this is happening at the central level, it is not good. They will turn around and ask, what is happening in Delhi?”
He said he was surprised by the letter. “It appeared in the morning newspaper. I saw the pictures and everything. And the very next day the CWC was called. We did not even know the contents fully… Now, those issues which have been raised, I am sure will come up in the next meeting,” he said.
‘Centre isn’t helping on COVID’
“We have no support from the Centre on COVID-19. We need resources. The Centre has given us ₹101 crore, but I have spent ₹500 crore. And I do not have money because my own resources have come to a halt. We have 44,570 positive cases. They do not sound much compared to the rest of the country. But we are just 2 per cent of India,” Amarinder said.
“But I learnt today that even the GST (share of the state) is not going to come. All our taxes have been subsumed. And now they are saying we are not going to get money. Where are we to get the money?” he asked.