Cong named Meira Kumar late, may have worked if there was time: Capt Amarinder Singh

Amarinder Singh was candid as he talked about a variety of issues, from politics to India-Pakistan relations and culture to economy, and the massive debt faced by his state. He was also hopeful that introduction of the GST would boost Punjab’s revenues by Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000 crore.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published:July 9, 2017 5:43 am
Amarinder Singh, Captain Amarinder Singh, Amarinder Singh Indian express adda, GST amarinder singh, Punjab GST, Indian express, india news, Latest news Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh at the Express Adda in New Delhi on Friday. Oinam Anand

PUNJAB Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has said he agrees with the view that the Opposition should have announced its candidate for President before the ruling NDA. Asked whether the Congress had bungled in announcing Meira Kumar’s candidature after the NDA put up Ram Nath Kovind, at the Express Adda here on Friday, Singh said, “Yes, I think there has been a delay in announcement of her name… I think if she had another month or two for campaigning, perhaps it would have worked. But I am sure she will do very well.”

Singh was candid as he talked about a variety of issues at the Adda, from politics to India-Pakistan relations and culture to economy, and the massive debt faced by his state. He was also hopeful that introduction of the GST would boost Punjab’s revenues by Rs 5,000-Rs 6,000 crore.

At a time when ties between India and Pakistan have hit a low, Singh said that opening up of the borders in the event of a rapprochement between the two countries would help his state “a great deal”. Singh said he had asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for permission to sell surplus power in Punjab to Pakistan, and the PM had said he favoured it but the time was not right.

Significantly, Singh alleged a “collusion” between the Pakistani Rangers and the BSF in letting drugs into the country. “I had mentioned it to then home minister L K Advani when I was the chief minister earlier. I told him that you should change these battalions every one year. It will be an expensive proposition but (has to be done) if you want to break the nexus between the Rangers and these chaps,” he said.

However, Singh admitted that despite the promises the Congress had made before the polls, his government had not been able to catch any of the big fish involved in the racket. Claiming to have nevertheless dealt the racket a blow, he added, “We will soon (get the big names).”

Defending his stand on the J&K human shield controversy, Singh blasted former CM Omar Abdullah for raising moral and legal questions over the Army’s actions. He said Omar should first go and face the angry crowds in the Valley and then talk. “What was the option before the young Major? I think he did a great job and deserves a pat on the back. I met the (Army) Chief yesterday and I said I am very happy that you have given him (Major Leetul Gogoi) a commendation.”

Talking about the agrarian crisis, Singh said he was “very keen on GM crops”, arguing that policies have to be “fluid” and not “static”. “It is a controversial subject, people don’t want it to happen, but I think the way the population is growing, you got to have more production… If you bring GM maize, it will increase production per acre by 200 to 300 per cent… That is the requirement of today and we have to agree to that.”

On the appearance of pro-Khalistani posters, he said his government was dealing with it sternly and that four people had been arrested on charges of sedition. “We are not going to take any nonsense, Punjab is not going to go back to square one. As long as I am there, we will not allow anything to happen,” Singh said.

He also urged Canada to rein in pro-Khalistani elements operating from its soil. Asked whether he would take up the issue with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is set to visit India, Singh said Trudeau was perhaps not aware of what was happening. “They say they got a Constitution and free speech, free action. So do we… but not against friendly countries. If Justin Trudeau is coming here, he is welcome, but he must keep these anti-Indian chaps under check.”

On Pakistan, he said people on both sides of Punjab are very warm and welcome one another with open arms, but the problem starts between government to government. Quoting a remark by former chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab Pervaiz Elahi — “Lets have an understanding. You come to Lahore and have dinner at the food street here, and we come to Amritsar and have our lunch there” — Singh said, “I hope someday that will happen.”

The opening up of the borders would “help us a great deal”, he added. He recalled that when he met Modi, “I told him that I have got 1,400 MW of power, if somebody in Pakistan is interested, will you allow me to give it? He said, ‘Agar koi baat hoti hai to 6,000 to mere pass bi hain Gujarat main, wo bi lelo, but time thoda teek hone do (If there is such a discussion, then there is 6,000 MW in Gujarat as well, that can also be given, but the time is not ripe)’.”

On the Congress, Singh was confident that it would bounce back, but argued that the party should announce its CM candidates in states in advance. Times have changed and people want to know who their CM faces are, he said.
Singh said his government would introduce English as a medium of instruction in schools. “Otherwise, our children don’t have a chance getting in anywhere.”

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    A.L.Sundaresan
    Jul 9, 2017 at 10:59 pm
    Mr. Amarinder comes out as a statesman, effortlessly rising above the temptations of petty partisan g standing.. wish other Congressmen can learn from him..
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      vvvvv
      Jul 9, 2017 at 12:04 pm
      Very talented CM must give ticket for President I dont understand how far we play caste and religous politics. We youth must keep full stop bottome for such politics what BJP Govt at centre is doing same Congress show ame any difference Why LAlu jee drag all of sudden bcoz he criticize centre for their week policies destablizing inida?... Jai Hind
      Reply
      1. S
        surinder
        Jul 9, 2017 at 10:19 am
        Congress never cared if she wins or not. The idea was to project a backward class person to retain their imagined status of champions for them.
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        1. M
          module
          Jul 9, 2017 at 9:51 am
          Congress is always , will think, will tell, will do, may possible mode. They never become proactive likes, Lal Bhahadur, Indira or Rajiv Gandhi. in every steps they are too late and only thinking. It's all happening, because, some corrupt old(above 80yrs)leaders are there. Neither they wants to do or allowing to do something and that's why Rahul Gandhi is still hanging around and unwell Sonia Gandhi is still working. How a Son can remove mother? If congress remove all their old horses, then there is a possibility to come back. Sometimes, in India, people likes sweet talks, more diplomatic than works, more false promise than actual, more provocation than unity, likes truth but unable to perform. our present PM is a classic example.
          Reply
          1. V
            vvvvv
            Jul 9, 2017 at 12:06 pm
            This is useless first learn politics than open u r mouth..
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            Avinash
            Jul 9, 2017 at 7:00 am
            What nonsense, Sardarji? If you have evidence regarding BSF involvement in drug trafficking, make it public. Keep quiet otherwise. Regarding the surplus wattage trying to sell to Pakis, make sure Panjabis, not the State, gets electricity 24/7. Don't u think?
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            1. V
              Vong
              Jul 9, 2017 at 10:27 am
              Bau ji ? use sensible language. Parliamentary language.
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            2. N
              Neelakantan Chandrasekaran
              Jul 9, 2017 at 6:53 am
              Is he Congress party CM? Punjab is lucky! Punjab people are smart!
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              1. G
                Girish
                Jul 9, 2017 at 6:45 am
                Looks like very practical and sensible person from congress. We should respect and admire good politicians irrespective of any party affiliation.
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                1. V
                  vvvvv
                  Jul 9, 2017 at 12:07 pm
                  True u r right
                  Reply
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