Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh talks to Indian Express on his government’s performance, the human shield case and the row surrounding his minister. Your government is going to complete 100 days. How do you look at your performance?
I am satisfied. We have set Punjab on a growth trajectory… People ask when are we getting this and that, those are finance related. And finance means Budget, and I can’t make commitments before that.
In your campaign, you had promised to end the drug menace in four weeks. What happened to that?
We have done it. Over 4,000 drug sellers have been arrested… (cost of) one gm of heroin in Punjab was Rs 1,500. Now it is Rs 5,000. We have choked the supply. Our rehabilitation centres where nobody was coming are filling up. These 4,000 (sellers) are supplied by bigwigs. We will get them. We know who they are, where they are, everything. They are not in Punjab. In fact, drug dealers are shifting to Delhi. The Delhi government should be prepared.
Even before completing 100 days, there is an allegation against one of your ministers. How has this Rana Gurjit Singh episode cast a shadow on your government and you?
Not at all. This is a trial by media and by the opposition. That is why I have put a judicial commission under a very upright judge who has retired from high court and is a specialist in corporate law. But just because there is a media trial, should I sack my minister? I am not going to do that. Let the judge complete his task. He has asked for one month. That is not a long time.
The question is if you don’t ask him to step down, what is the difference between the clean government you promised and the previous regime?
I am waiting for the commission to come up with an answer. If tomorrow, Mr Badal or these AAP chaps start making noise against another minister, do I sack him?
What made you support Major Gogoi who used a Kashmiri as a human shield?
I put myself in his shoes. I have a patrol with me of 10 or 15 men. My task is bring out this polling party and CRPF men. If stones are being thrown at me, what are the options? If I withdraw, I will be court marshalled and the only way to go in is to shoot your way in…the third option he used out of his young mind…If I was in his place, I would have done the same.
Many in your party don’t agree?
Party has a different point. But I have also been a soldier. I think we are not being fair with our boys there. The situation there is the government’s responsibility… Would you have preferred if he opened fire…there would have been a bigger hungama. He should be given a pat on the back.
Are you now the hardline voice in Congress. Or was that statement political because many in the party believe nationalism cannot be monopoly of the BJP?
I am not a hardliner. I am for peace. We have seen a difficult time in Punjab, much more than what these chaps are facing in Kashmir. Punjab saw 35,000 people killed, we don’t want any state to pass through that whether here or in Naxal belt or in Kashmir.