Punjab chief minister resigns ahead of Indian state election

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – The chief minister of Punjab, an Indian state on its northwestern border with Pakistan, resigned on Saturday, deepening the crisis within the main opposition party in Congress ahead of national elections scheduled before March.

Amarinder Singh, 79, tendered his resignation to the state governor after the party’s central leadership called a meeting of its heads of state later on Saturday.

“I feel humiliated,” Singh told reporters after submitting his resignation, referring to doubts expressed by the central party leadership about his ability to run the state.

Singh’s resignation could boost electoral chances for the two regional parties and the ruling party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which have faced farmer protests for more than a year against three controversial laws, political analysts have said.

“I will talk to my supporters and then decide on my future course of action,” Singh said when asked if he would accept a new party leader as head of state.

“All options are open,” he said.

The Congress Party, which lost several state elections after losing the national elections in 2019, failed to issue a credible challenge to Modi who has been criticized for his handling of the pandemic, farmer protests and the economy.

(Reporting by Manoj Kumar; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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