THROWING HIS weight behind AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday called himself the “old guard” of the Congress who was “all for Rahul”. Reacting to reports that AICC president Sonia Gandhi was turning to the old guard to take on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, he said, “I am not aware of any such development. But I am an old guard and I am all for Rahul.”
Amarinder was speaking to the media after casting his vote in the presidential election. Making an important announcement, the CM said the government was reviewing the provision of extension of retirement age for two years, over and above 58 years. He said as per a policy being mulled by the state, with 58 as the age of retirement, it would help the state to generate more employment opportunities for the state’s youth. But the issue was still under discussion.
The matter was being reviewed and a policy decision would be taken only after a detailed analysis of the implications of any change regarding the existing one. It was the decision of the previous government to extend the age of retirement by two years. Denying reports that he had been summoned by the Prime Minister on SYL, Amarinder said he had no information about it but the state was engaged in fruitful talks with the Centre to find an early and amicable solution to the issue.
The state government, he said, had requested the Union Ministry of Water Resources to assess the existing quantum of river water before the issue is finally adjudicated upon. Amarinder denied having discussed the SYL with the PM, saying no meeting had been convened on the issue yet. The CM said the final report on debt waiver by the expert committee headed by Dr. T Haque was awaited to enable the government to take a holistic view of the problem and find ways and means to implement farm debt waiver in right earnest. He indicated that the government was trying to mobilise additional financial resources by way of some taxes to narrow the widening budget deficit and the finance minister was working in that direction.
On Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar’s probability to contest the Lok Sabha by-election from Gurdaspur, Amarinder said there had been no discussion on Jakhar’s nomination so far. “It will depend on the party president and vice-president.” He also ruled out a review of the decision on disbanding of truck unions across the state. “There will not be any review. We have announced that the truck unions have been dissolved and those would continue to be so. But we will make sure that the small truckers do not suffer.”