Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Friday ruled out an alliance with the ‘Awaaz-e-Punjab’, but said the front floated by cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu is welcome to merge with the Congress. Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Amarinder said anyone was welcome to join the party, but only without pre-conditions and seat adjustments. He dismissed claims by Navjot Kaur Sidhu that the couple were in talks with the Congress’ senior leadership in New Delhi.
“There are no talks between any Congress leader and Navjot Singh Sidhu. They should also tell us who they were in contact with,” he said.
He said the state leadership would be aware if any talks took place. Besides, he added, the central leadership would keep state leaders in the loop if such developments took place.
Accusing Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of embezzling Rs 32000 crore in food grain scam, Amarinder said if Congress comes to power, it will recommend a CBI probe into it.
“We will hold him accountable for every penny,” he asserted.
Meanwhile, Punjab Congress has shortlisted 600 out of 1,600 applications for party tickets for contesting the upcoming Assembly elections.
The party has introduced strict conditions that all prospective candidates need to meet in order to be considered for final selection, said Amarinder, asserting that credibility and winnability would be the only criteria.
A four-member committee, headed by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee vice president Laal Singh, has been set up to screen those wanting to join the party in the run-up to the election, he said.
The Punjab Congress is also set to kick off its farmer outreach campaign to reach out to every household in the state, beginning with a door-to-door drive from October 12, he said.
Unrolling the campaign strategy here, Amarinder said that in the first phase – from October 12 to October 25, party workers will engage with more than 25 lakh households.
The party will establish direct contact with 75 lakh voters, reaching out to more than 2 crore people in this period.
Earlier, at a party meeting, Amarinder rolled out the programme blueprint and assigned targets for party workers.
On the lines of the UP Kisan Yatra, the Punjab campaign will see Congress workers in the state approaching the targeted households with a simple proforma to record the details of the household and the quantum of their outstanding debt.
A receipt will be issued to serve as an agreement guaranteeing debt waiver for the farmers on priority basis once the Congress forms the government, he said.
Addressing party workers, Amarinder said the Congress would waive off all farm debts and ban auctioning of farmland once it comes to power.
The party will also ensure that procurement is carried out promptly, with higher MSP paid to farmers within 24 hours of lifting the grain, he said, adding that most of the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission report would be implemented.
Reacting to media reports that the Punjab Vigilance Bureau has filed a cancellation report in the alleged Amritsar Improvement Trust (AIT) land scam case in which Amarinder was one of the accused, the former Chief Minister said the development vindicates his stand that the case had no legal basis.
He also hit out at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal for claiming there was an an understanding between him and the present state government in this regard.