Former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday said the mission of his party, the Punjab Lok Congress, was to form the next government in the state and not just defeat the ruling Congress. Addressing a meeting of party workers and office bearers here, Singh said he was overwhelmed with the response he was getting from across the state.
He claimed that very soon several sitting and former legislators from all the three major political parties — the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and Shiromani Akali Dal — will be joining his party. “We will soon be holding a similar function but at a large scale as several leaders will be joining us,” a party statement quoting him as saying.
Punjab assembly polls are due early next year. Sharing the agenda of his party, Singh said he was not there just to become the chief minister once again.
“My mission is not only saving Punjab but reviving its past glory,” he asserted while referring to some pressing problems that confronted the state right now. The former chief minister pointed out that Punjab was under a massive debt of about Rs 5 lakh crore, which was about 70 per cent of the total gross state domestic product (GSDP).
He said this will take generations to repay and the corrective measures needed to be taken immediately. He also wondered where his successor Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi was going to get the money for populist announcements.
“Probably, he knows that Congress is not going to come back and let the next government bear the brunt,” said Singh, who faced an unceremonious exit from the state government in September. He said Punjab can no longer depend on agriculture and it needs modern industry for which investment is needed.
He said till September, Rs 1 lakh crore had already been invested in the state. Referring to the threat from the neighbouring country, the former chief minister said India did not want enmity with any country.
Singh said he had nothing personally against the people of Pakistan, but he has problems with the Pakistan government and its military establishment which is sponsoring terror and killing our soldiers on borders. Singh said 83 soldiers from Punjab were killed during the last five years. “Imagine the total number of casualties from across the country”, he said, while adding that under such circumstances no true Indian can claim that Imran Khan and Pakistan military chief General Qamar Bajwa are his friends.
“If you are friends with such people, which you proudly claim, you are not a well-wisher of the country,” he said while referring to Punjab Congress chief Navjot Singh Sidhu’s public pronouncements claiming Imran Khan to be his friend. Referring to the plight of other political parties in the state, Singh said the Congress was in a state of civil war with the incumbent chief minister and the PCC president pulling in different directions with workers and leaders feeling confused and clueless on what to do and whom to follow.
The AAP was down in the dumps, with half of their legislators having deserted the party, and others ready to leave, claimed Singh. About the Akali Dal, he said they were yet to find their feet again after being punished by people as it was during their tenure that the sacrilege incidents took place in 2015 and they took no action.
Moreover, he added that the farmers were not going to forgive them for supporting the repealed agriculture laws initially although they backed out later. Elaborating about his party’s plan of action, he said the Punjab Lok Congress will go for seat adjustment with the BJP. He said the BJP was also in consultation with Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa who leads Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt).
He hoped that the seat adjustment will be worked out soon and the new government will watch and safeguard the interests of the state at all costs.
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