In less than three months, former chief minister of Punjab Amarinder Singh has reduced his status as a politician in the state dramatically.

His image of a powerful politicians representing the federal aspirations of Punjab has taken a beating after his spate of meetings with BJP leaders at Delhi, and his decision to support the central narrative on national security that includes the proposed move to extend the operational jurisdiction of the Border Security Force, from 15 to 50 km in Punjab as well as other border states. This has been opposed by all other political parties except of course, the ruling BJP.

“The operational jurisdiction of the BSF concerns national security and not the law and order in the state, which the current powers that be in Punjab are apparently not able to understand,” he said in a statement. He said it was sad that the Congress government in the state was trying to politicise an issue, which concerns national security and is important for all the border states including Punjab.

“Extending the operational jurisdiction of the BSF neither infringes upon the federal authority of the state, nor questions the competence of the state police in maintaining law and order, as some vested political interests are trying to make out,” Singh had further added.

Ironically, the same Amarinder Singh as the chief minister in 2018 had suggested that the border tenures of the BSF should be reduced to break the alleged nexus between their personnel and drug smugglers. His current stand has not gone down well with the people.

Just three months ago a ‘humiliated’ Amarinder who had been dislodged from the chair of the chief minister had promised to fight back. He had announced his exit from the Congress while insisting that he would not join the BJP but would work in tandem with the saffron force.

He later announced the formation of the Punjab Lok Congress with reports suggesting that he might have seat sharing arrangements with the BJP if he was able to find a solution to the ongoing farmers’ agitation. An understanding with the breakaway Akali Dal factions was also on the cards.

He was clearly unable to deliver, with the Samyukta Kisan Morcha opposed to his politics. The BJP has also realised his inability to break into the farmers movement and has now announced its intention to contest all the 117 Assembly seats in Punjab. Amarinder Singh's aspirations have thus, turned to dust.

Similarly Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt) has said that there was no question of a seat sharing agreement with Amarinder Singh and his new political party.

The scion of Patiala’s erstwhile royal family, Singh had been brought into the Congress by his friend and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980. He had earned great respect for having quit his parliamentary seat as well as the Congress party in 1984 in protest against Operation Blue Star.

He had gone on to join the Shiromani Akali Dal and become a state minister only to break away in 1992 to form his own Akali Dal (Panthic) that fared very poorly in electoral politics.

He returned to the Congress in 1998 and had risen to become one of the most powerful political faces in Punjab.

Singh is well remembered for taking a strong stand in the face of his party’s central leadership in 2004 and annul all the river water awards and accords with neighhouring Haryana and Rajasthan.

The same Captain as he is popularly known, who has been raising national security issues in context of Pakistan and also attacking state Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu for his Kartarpur Sahib corridor diplomacy, is remembered for going that extra step to establish cordial relations with Pakistan's Punjab during his first tenure as the chief minister, from 2002 to 2007.

Onhis first visit to Pakistan's Punjab in 2004, he had received a horse ‘Sultan’ from his counterpart Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi. Unfortunately, the horse had to be quarantined on his arrival in India and died soon after. Elahi had then gone on to replace the dead horse with another one named ‘Sunny Kid’ which Singh had handed over to the Punjab Police Academy at Phillaur amidst much fanfare. He had specially gone to meet the horse after an investiture event at the Academy in 2018.

The two chief ministers of the two Punjabs on either side of the border had launched several initiatives to promote the Punjabi language and literature besides sports.

Singh led the Congress to victory in the 2017 assembly polls when the rookie Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was threatening to walk away with the winner’s crown.

The last Assembly elections in the state was simply an Amarinder Singh show where even the Congress high command was nowhere in the picture. People recall his powerful gesture when he took an oath with the holy Gutka Sahib in hand to destroy the drug mafia in Punjab ahead of the polls.

Poll strategist Prashant Kishor’s centred a few campaigns around him thathelped him win the elections like ‘Punjab da Captain’ merchandise, ‘Coffee with Captain’, ‘ Har Ghar to Ik Captain’ etc.

Singh made tall promises through the campaign but soon after assuming power seemed to have left all this behind. Instead his colleagues and party workers started complaining of his inaccessibility, with the stories being carried to the Congress top brass in Delhi. All this contributed to his final goodbye from office.

He is not being taken seriously now by any of the political parties contesting the polls. “Going by the present scenario, he can at the most play a spoilsport for some of the Congress candidates. It is pretty obvious that those denied tickets by the party might switch over to his side and anyone seeking a party ticket obviously has some clout. It remains to be seen whether his party can muster public support to win some seats or will it meet the fate of his earlier Akali Dal (Panthic),” sources pointed out.

The Maharaja as he is also referred ti stands on the sidelines of state politics today. Age and isolation seems to have tampered with his ability to jumo on to centre stage again. But then in politics, there is no 'never' and only time will tell.

Capt Amarinder Singh meets Amit Shah in Delhi, discusses farm laws, MSP -  India News