Chandigarh: One of the strongest regional satraps of the Congress, Amarinder Singh put the party back in the saddle in Punjab after the “father of all battles” that decimated the SAD and crushed the AAP’s dream of expanding its footprint beyond Delhi.
75-year-old Amarinder, a widely respected and popular leader, steered the Congress to a landslide victory winning 77 seats in the 117 member Assembly to occupy the chief minister’s post for the second time.
The maharaja’s win in Punjab after 10 years has also rekindled the hopes for the revival of the grand old party.
Belonging to a very rare breed of politicians who have seen action in the Indo-Pak war, Singh this time tasted success after Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal foiled his previous attempts to become chief minister in 2007 and 2012.
Once a leader of the Akali Dal, the ‘scion of Patiala’ fought in the 1965 war after he rejoined the army a few months after his resignation. He again resigned from the Services as a decorated soldier at the conclusion of the war.
The Punjab Congress chief and husband of Patiala MP Preneet Kaur was born to late Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala.
After his initial schooling at Lawrence School, Sanawar and Doon School in Dehradun, he joined the National Defence Academy, Kharagwasla July 1959 and graduated from there in December 1963.
Commissioned in the Indian Army in 1963, he was posted in 2nd Bn. Sikh Regiment (both his father and grandfather had served the battalion), served in Field Area – Indo Tibetan border for two years and was appointed Aide-de-Camp to Lt Gen Harbaksh Singh, GOC-in-C Western Command.
His army career was shortlived as he resigned in early 1965 after his father was appointed Ambassador to Italy and his services were required at home.
But he joined the army again immediately after hostilities broke out with Pakistan and took part in operations in the war only to resign again in early 1966 after the war was over.
His political career began in January 1980 when he was elected MP. But he resigned from the Congress and the Lok Sabha in protest against the entry of the army into the Golden Temple during “Operation Blue Star” in 1984. .