Chandigarh, October 27
Declaring that he would launch his new party as soon as the Election Commission clears the name and the symbol, former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday hit out at the Congress, saying many people from the party were in touch with him and they will come out in the open when the time comes.
“We are waiting for the opportune moment. But I will not take their names. Already my supporters are being harassed,” said Captain Amarinder, addressing his first press conference after stepping down as chief minister. Asked how many MLAs were in touch with him, he quipped “if Rahul Gandhi needs to have back-to-back meetings with Punjab Congress MLAs, what does it mean?”
As to why he had not resigned yet from the party, Captain Amarinder responded, “I have spent 50 years in the Congress, how does it manner of I stay for another 10 days?”
He rejected Congress claims of a majority of the MLAs opposing his continuation in office, and said “once they (party leadership) had made up their mind to replace me, all these excuses were made.” Pointing out that the so-called 18-point agenda of the Congress for his government was nothing but part of the Punjab 2017 manifesto, he said the Kharge committee was clearly told that 92% of all the poll promises had been fulfilled.
Taking on his detractors, particularly Navjot Sidhu and Sukhjinder Randhawa, Captain Amarinder slammed them for indulging in petty issues. “We will fight and defeat Sidhu from wherever he contests the upcoming Assembly polls,” he vowed, adding that since the former had taken over the Punjab Congress reins, there had been a 25% drop in the party’s popularity, as per his surveys.
Trashing allegations against his Pakistani friend Aroosa Alam, Captain Amarinder termed as baseless the charges of money being sent out by her. Even as he asked if Aroosa was the only issue left in Punjab, he questioned the intention of Randhawa in raising the issue now after never raking it up all these years. Aroosa had been visiting him for 16 years and he would definitely invite her again, he added.
Pointing out that he had never spoken of aligning with the BJP, Captain Amarinder said what he wanted to do was seat sharing. “In military parlays it means concentration of forces,” he remarked, adding that he had, however, not yet talked to the BJP on this. Dismissing as trash Sidhu’s tweet accusing him of being loyal to BJP, he said the thought of seat sharing with the BJP came to his mind only after he was forced out of office. “States have to work with the Centre to function effectively,” he pointed out.
He further made it clear that he had no intention of aligning with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) but only with breakaway Akali groups. Asked about reported refusal of Dhindsa to tie up with him, Captain Amarinder said “If Dhindsa has to put up a real fight, he will have to concentrate his forces too.” “To defeat the Congress, the SAD and AAP,” we will all have to work as a joint force,” he asserted.
Trashing allegations of not delivering during the 4.5 years of his rule, Captain Amarinder listed out various works completed by his government and said the Charanjit Channi government was merely implementing what we had decided to do. “All the work we start is simply being carried forward. The land ownership of Lal Doras and Slums was started by me, it was a decision of my cabinet,” he pointed out.
Countering propaganda that nothing had happened in the Bargari and other sacrilege cases, the former chief minister said all were investigating. As many as 19 police officers and 21 civilians were booked, he said, pointing out that all these processes take time.
Listing some of his government’s achievement, he disclosed that of the targeted Rs 1 lakh crore industrial investment, Rs 96000 crore had already come by the time he stepped down as chief minister. Leading corporate houses had invested in Punjab, he said, adding that fortunately, the farmers’ agitation had not impacted investments in the state. He also shared with the media a booklet titled ‘Facts v/s Disinformation’, detailing achievements of his government from March 2017 till September 18, 2021.
On the political issues he will prioritize in the elections, the former CM said a manifesto committee would finalise the same. Issues keep changing, he noted.