Election 2017

Absence of regional face also a reason for AAP’s defeat in Punjab, says Capt Amarinder

Punjab News Express
PATIALA: Calling for a bigger role for regional leaders in states, Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh has termed the absence of a regional face as one of reasons for the drubbing received by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Punjab assembly polls.

Talking to the local media here on Sunday, a day after the Congress recorded a landslide victory in the state, a relaxed Captain Amarinder Singh said it was important to promote regional leaders in order to counter other regional parties in states. It was vital, he said, to project a regional face that could identify with the people of the region.

Captain Amarinder ruled out any vendetta politics by his government, saying proper investigations would be conducted to pin responsibility in drugs and other crimes, and suitable action will be taken against those found guilty.

Reacting to the poll outcome in Punjab, the Congress chief ministerial candidate dismissed the AAP hype in the run-up to the Punjab elections as nothing more than a social media creation. To a question on the UP poll results, Captain Amarinder revealed that he had spoken to Priyanka Gandhi last night and they had discussed that the Congress had a chance of a comeback in the politically crucial state, just as it had come back in Punjab this time. He added that the Congress winning performance in three of the five states that went to polls showed that the party’s overall standing had improved.

Optimistic about getting the Modi government’ support in taking forward the Punjab development agenda, Captain Amarinder recalled that he had faced no problems in working with then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during his previous chief ministerial tenure. The PPCC president said he would be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon to discuss various development projects for the state. Asked about farm loan waiver – a key poll promise of the Punjab Congress, Captain Amarinder said he was fully committed to implementing the same and would ensure that adequate funds are raised for it.

Captain Amarinder further assured the people of Punjab of early execution of all the election promises, including elimination of the drugs menace, which he said would be wiped out within four weeks through the establishment of a special task force. He underlined the importance of setting up more rehabilitation and de-addiction centres, as well as appointment of more psychiatrists, to tackle the drugs problem.

On his promise of revival of industries, he said the industrial policy of the state would be liberalized to check the flight of industries and make Punjab an attractive destination for them. He disclosed that several leading industrialists had been in touch with him and evinced interest in investing in Punjab.

Global tenders would soon be floated to procure smartphones, as promised under the Captain Smart Connect programme launched ahead of the polls, said Captain Amarinder in response to a question. He emphasised the importance of improving the state’s health and education systems on priority basis.

On the way forward on the SYL issue, the PPCC chief stressed the need to first ascertain the quantum of water available to the state. Asserting that the very premise of the formation of Haryana in 1966 under the Punjab Reorganization Act, with its lopsided distribution of water, needed to be challenged, Captain Amarinder said his government would work on this.

To a question on Navjot Singh Sidhu’s role in the new Congress dispensation in Punjab, Captain Amarinder said the decision in this matter rested with Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.

In response to another question, he expressed disappointment at the defeat of senior some Congress leaders such as Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Sunil Jakhar, Kewal Singh Dhillon and Jagmohan Kang.

Reacting to the recent Dera Sacha Sauda clash, Captain Amarinder urged all sides to allow tempers to cool down, pointing to the need to ensure peace to enable Punjab to progress.

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