Former Chief Minister and Punjab Lok Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh today said that the alliance with the Bhartiya Janata Party and the Shiromani Akali Dal-Sanyukt was in the national and state’s interest.
Addressing a public meeting after inducting senior Congress leader Raj Numberdar into the party here today, Capt Amarinder said, Punjab was faced with multiple challenges, particularly on security and economic front. “I found the BJP as the only party that can take care of both things”, he said, while adding, he was glad to welcome the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Punjab tomorrow at Ferozepur. He said, having known Prime Minister Modi for a long time, he had seen him concerned about Punjab and the Punjabis and he understood Punjab very well.
Appealing people to support the alliance in ensuing elections, Capt Amarinder asked them to ensure that they were voting while keeping in mind the interest of the state and the country and their own area.
Later addressing a press conference the former Chief Minister lashed out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Punjab Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu for taking people of Punjab for a ride by making promises which they knew cannot be fulfilled. Referring to Sidhu’s plethora of problems he made to women and girl students, Capt Amarinder wondered whether he (Sidhu) realised their financial implications. “The cumulative debt of Punjab is already about 5 lakh crores and I don’t know where from Sidhu and Kejriwal will get the money to support these schemes”, he said, while pointing out, it was the same Sidhu, who a month ago opposed his own Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on freebies and sops and now he is doing it himself. He said, Sidhu did not have a permanent stand on anything.
On the issue of ticket distribution, Capt Amarinder reiterated that the winnability will be the sole criterion for choosing the candidates and the process had already begun as the three parties had started the negotiations amongst themselves.
On the issue of the Chief Minister, he said, it will again be a collective decision of the alliance partners.
On some special package to Punjab, Capt Amarinder said that a few weeks back he had written to the Prime Minister seeking special Rs one lakh crore package for Punjab for agriculture diversification which could be given over a period of five years, Rs 20, 000 crores every year. He said, this can be specifically used for encouraging and promoting cultivation of pulses as India imported pulses worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore every year. “If we grow pulses here, we can save enormous foreign exchange besides saving water table that is fast depleting due to the widespread cultivation of paddy ”, he added.
Replying to a question that Channi had been accusing him of non-performance, Capt Amaninder said, Channi as well as other Congress leaders are seeking votes for five years of performance of Congress government which was headed by him (Capt Amarinder) for four and a half years. “You ask them, if I did not perform, why are they seeking votes for last five years and not their own three months alone?” he asked, while adding, let the Chief Minister explain which project can be completed within 90 days as normally any project takes between six to eighteen months to complete. “Mere announcements do not make for achievements”, he remarked.