Captain Amarinder Singh says that there is no Modi factor or wave in Punjab. Rather, there is anti-incumbency wave against Siromani Akali Dal (Badal) and Bhartiya Janata Party alliances in the state. He claims that his main opponent on Amritsar parliamentary seat, Arun Jaitley, is a less known people in the area and only few locals know about him. RSTV interviews Capt. Amarinder Singh of INC who is ex-chief minister of the state. Some excerpts-
There seems to be lot of focus on local issues rather than apprising them of the national achievements of UPA govt?
That is not true. Actually here are three sorts of reasons on which people are fighting elections. First is Modi factor…now there is no modi factor here. Number two is the anti-incumbency against central govt. There is no anti-incumbency here. Here is only one thing – the anti-incumbency against the state govt. Arun Jaitley is the leader of opposition in the Rajya Sabha. I think 72% of the sittings were boycotted by the BJP led by him in Rajya Sabha and in the Lok Sabha as well. Now, this together has cost 700 crores lose to the country.
You are talking about the opponent Mr Jaitley. This campaign seems to have taken a lot of personal tone. Why so, why not focus more on issues?
There is no verbal exchange…you see Mr Jaitley has never been in politics. This is my 13th election. He does not know how elections are fought. He must know that this is Majha …one of the strongest parts of Punjab, Men of Majha have got steel in their blood and he expect us to talk politics like a convent girl. It has to be on the basis of facts and figures and push them across with vigour what you want to do.
You have directly attacked SAD leader Vikram Singh Majethia in your speeches…?
You must have noticed that Jaitley does not feature in this election campaign. Nobody cares about Jaitley up here. I don’t think if 10% can recognize who Jaitley is in this sort of thing. He is not a known figure here. Yes, Majethia is in neighbouring constituency. He is a kingpin of the drug mafia in this area. How many thousands and thousands of children are either dead or some way in other are incapacitated by his drugs. And yes he is the main figure. If anybody is hated today in Punjab it is Vikram Singh Majitha.
That is a very strong accusation. Now the people of SAD and BJP are saying that if he is guilty, why did not central govt take action against him for last 10 years?
This is already in the courts. It is the question of police cracking down on him. Unfortunately, Punjab’s Home Minister is his brother-in-law, Mr Badal Junior and Badal Senior is Chief Minister of the state. Now, as the ED has taken on its own and soon he will be in court.
The anti-incumbency factor against the centre will rub negative against you?
National anti-incumbency and Modi factor are not issues here. In fact, Jaitley and the gang are all not going to get rid of not allowing bills to pass in the parliament.
Don’t you agree that your party lacked in communicating the benefits of flagship programs?
No. MGNREGA is one of them. Everyone knows about it and getting money and whole MGNREGA is working very well. That started in my time and that was one of the flagship programs also. So these are the things that everyone knows but lot of things never happened because Jaitley and company could not let it go through Parliament.
What about UPA-2 performance?
These programs are also in UPA-2. It’s a continuation in the current manifesto. The ones that were not able to be passed in UPA-2, we brought them back for the next govt. It’s a part of our manifesto. The problem is that nobody is asking who has stopped them. Why UPA-2 has not been able to pass them. Primarily, because of BJP’s boycott.
One problem of Punjab Congress is factionalism?
What you call factionalism is purely a style of discussion. The case is that we are the senior people we have been through govt. Bhattal has been through govt Sunil Jhakkhad is our Leader of CLP. We all are senior people. If we sit across a table and we disagree on something, does it mean we are fighting? Eventually in most of the times we reach consensus and once the consensus is reached, it becomes party’s policy. Nobody is fighting over things, they are just open discussions.
What is your agenda for the constituency of Amritsar?
In 2006, when I was CM, I had a 25 year plan made for Amritsar called ‘Amritsar 2025’. I did it because it has Jallianwala Bagh, famous temples, Historical parks and places. I thought for this city we need to do something special. And I have that draft made and it was done by a very high class team. It has been lying in the lockers and the present state govt is not bothered to take it out.
This plan is for rural areas as well. Their land has been, for some stupid reasons, put beyond wires. There are parallel wires across INDO-PAK border. If someone wants to farm that land due to security compulsion they cannot do it. That is the major problem. Other problem is jobs. Jobs mean industries, industries means infrastructure. Infrastructure includes power. We need to bring power somehow. And thirdly these Akalis do not want to spend money on this.