Speaking to The Indian Express at his Chandigarh residence, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Capt Amarinder Singh, gives his views on a host of issues including the prospects of former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu’s chances of joining Congress, the ‘interference’ of his predecessor Partap Bajwa into his fucntioning and Aam Aadmi Part’s prospects in the forthcoming elections.
Can you shed some light on the status of Navjot Singh Sidhu as far as Congress is concerned?
I have no idea. He has not met me, he has not met the general secretary so I do not know. But we have always said that he is welcome to join the party. I have said from day one that our DNA is the same. We know nothing, neither does the general secretary of the party and she is here today. Nobody knows who is talking, what is talking, even if something is happening. I do not believe that the Congress leadership would be talking without us knowing. It never happens. Anytime anything happens the leadership would have made us know and consulted us.
But there has been flip flop on your part where you first welcomed him, then called him a comedian and then again welcomed him.
I said in an interview that comedy was his profession. These are things that one says. That is his profession. Somebody is a serious actor, someone does comedy. However, I have called Bhagwant and Gurpreet Ghuggi of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) jokers. Oh hai hee joker. Ohna nu main suneya hee eddan hai (They are jokers, that is how I have heard them). Where have I met them? I have only met them at social functions where they have acted as comedians. So they are genuine comedians. I am not saying this as derogatory about anyone else. So I said that he acts in comedy.
What is your reaction to recent statements made by Partap Bajwa, former PPCC President?
Partap is an MP now and he is a colleague but what he should remember is that he is an MP. I do not like the system of his commenting on political matters which are not in his domain anymore. It was in his domain but now it is not so. So political matters that we will give Punjab a present for Diwali and all that, this is all nonsense. What is he talking about? And that in any case is not his job. That is for me to say or my general secretary to say. I am the PCC President where does he come into the picture?
Would you agree that the Akali initiative about Amritsar heritage walk and war memorial is a good one?
Heritage walk is a very good thing. They have done a commendable job. But why is everything happening just three months before elections. Whether it is Darbar Sahib or War Memorial. everything is ending before elections and is catered to a section of the society. The Chamkaur Sahib war memorial, the work for which had been initiated by me is still as it is. They have not done anything. It is all geared for politics.
How confident are you at this stage about winning the elections?
I think we are doing very good and are coming up. The surveys being done confirm our internal survey. We now have the upper hand. But there are still three months to go and we have got to push harder to really get a very sizeable majority. Frankly I would want a two-thirds majority because there is going to be a problem coming up on water issues. We need the strength in the assembly to be able to set things right. The judgement of Supreme Court is going to come very soon because the judge is retiring and we are all going to resign.
What do you make about Arvind Kejriwal’s visits to Punjab including the most recent one?
This visit has been a flop. In earlier ones people were speculating and wanted to see him. I will tell you the reasons-Delhi is a Punjabi city and people get feedback about the happenings there from relatives, drug addiction has gone up there, water is not available. Secondly, here in Punjab the break up of AAP and the MPs getting divided and Sucha Singh leaving the party have reduced their sheen. Forcing non-Punjabi leaders on the state is also going down very badly for them. And therefore his popularity is going down day by day. His tiff with Modi will cause huge loss to the state since the entire procurement of crops is done by the centre.
What are your concerns on finances of the state?
I am going to set up an inquiry into the misuse of money meant for the cash credit limit. I am going to find out the people who did this and I am going to hang them if we come to power. This is farmers money and why should tax payers of Punjab cover your incompetence? You want Rs 21,000 crore more which is going to turn into Rs 50,000 crores just as interest in 20 years. Just the interest not the capital. This is completely irresponsible behaviour on part of the government. They have disappeared in places. The last repair took place when I was in power in 2006 and now it is 2016. All Mandi Board revenue you have pledged for next five years so there is no money to repair these roads.
I also plan to bring out a white paper on the state’s finances if we come to power. Look at the state of the link roads.