Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has emerged as an “effective and strong leader” and the party is witnessing a revival with him steering its campaigns, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Wednesday. “Over the years, Gandhi has emerged as an effective and strong leader, with a lot of political maturity and a deep connect with the people. What else do you need in a good leader?” he told PTI here in an interview.
Asked how he viewed Gandhi’s elevation as the party chief, Singh said it would boost the Congress’s fortunes. “As you can see, the Congress is already witnessing a revival, with Gandhi steering many of its programmes and campaigns,” he said. From assembly to municipal and university elections, the party has been on a winning spree for the last several months, beginning with the Punjab assembly polls, he said. His elevation will give a further boost to the party, he said. “I can say with confidence that the resurgence of the Congress in recent months has paved the way for its turnaround, which the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will further consolidate,” the Punjab chief minister said.
The Congress won the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat in Punjab and the Chitrakoot Assembly seat in Madhya Pradesh recently. However, the vision of a party has to be formulated by the high command, with the collective contribution of all its members, he said. When questioned whether the results of elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat would impact the 2019 polls, he said that “any election is a reflection of the popular mood, and both Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, where I see the Congress performing quite well, will emerge as an indicator of the people’s sentiment and eventually manifest in the party’s performance in the 2019 polls”.
Asked to rate the performance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Singh said that a leader’s performance can never be rated by another leader. It is the people who have to judge him and their judgement will be reflected in the 2019 LS polls, he said. Referring to the reduction in Goods and Services Tax (GST) rates by the Centre, Singh said that there was huge pressure from the Congress led by Gandhi, who effectively raised the voice of the people on various fora. “Gandhi has been quite aggressively campaigning against all government policies that are not designed to benefit the people,” he said. And naturally, the Centre could not afford to ignore the hue and cry over the GST issue, especially when it was impacting virtually every member of the society, including the trading and business community, he said.
An author of several books on military history, Capt. Singh is keen to pen another book but his current job as chief minister does not give him the required time. “Well, I do want to write a book on the Bangladesh war, but my current responsibilities as chief minister do not give me much time to nurture my interest,” he said. Singh had announced ahead of the 2017 Punjab polls that this may be his last political battle and at the end of his term he wanted to see Punjab as a glorious state.
“A glorious state leading the nation in terms of economic, agricultural and industrial development, as well as ranking at the top of the ladder and on all social welfare indices, including education, healthcare and employment,” he said.