Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi has put all the speculation to rest – if it all, existed – on its state chief Capt Amarinder Singh. Naming him his party’s chief ministerial face in Punjab, Gandhi finished has put an end to air of speculations existed post the replacement of then state unit chief Pratap Singh Bajwa with the Captain and entry of cricket-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu.
74-year-old Amarinder Singh, who is fighting his last election, has been reportedly asking his party to officially name the chief ministerial candidate for the high-stakes battle in Punjab.
On a three-day trip to Punjab, Rahul Gandhi took on the incumbent Akali-BJP combine as well as the new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from the Akali stronghold of Majitha, which is also a pocket-borough of Punjab minister Bikram Singh Majithia.
Underlining that only Amarinder Singh can change Punjab, the Congress vice president said, “Punjab will be run by its people. I want to tell you that Punjab’s chief minister will be from Punjab and Punjab’s chief minister is sitting here. Amarinder Singh is Punjab’s chief ministerial candidate and he will be Punjab’s chief minister.”
The announcement prompted quick reactions from the party leaders, even on the dais, who went on congratulate the former Chief Minister and expressed confidence that his second stint as CM is only few days away.
Flamboyant cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, who formally joined Congress last week, too was on the stage with Rahul Gandhi and Amarinder Singh.
Taking a veiled dig at new entrant AAP’s chief Kejriwal, Rahul Gandhi said Punjab will not be run by “remote control” as it does not need one. This election is not to “form a government but to save Punjabiyat” and Punjab’s honour and only Congress with the help of people of the state can do it, he added.
AAP had recently quoted controversy in Punjab hinterland after Delhi’s deputy CM Manish Sisodia had urged voters to “vote thinking Kejriwal will be your CM”. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal too had faced questions with reports suggesting his ambitions to become Punjab chief Minister, should his party get numbers.
Continuing to flay AAP further, Rahul claimed that Kejriwal and his party is trying to befool people of the state by making false and empty promises.
Attacking the ruling party Akali Dal’s first family, Rahul accused Badals of ruining Punjab and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of siding with them and talking of removing corruption.
“Modi says that he is fighting against corruption, you tell me when he talks about corruption and when he comes here and stands with the Akali Dal, how can he talk about corruption?” he said.
Promising that his party come down heavily on drug menace, one of the most important issues in this election, he also said that it will bring a law to deal with the drug menace in the state and put all those carrying out drugs business behind bars.
“We will fight against ‘chhitta’ (drugs). We will frame a tough law against drugs. We will take strict steps against this menace. We will frame such a law that anyone who thinks about drugs, they will shiver and feel scared,” he said.