Indian Express

Amarinder ‘outsider’ remark draws Jaitley’s Sonia barbs

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Arun Jaitley at an event to mark the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, in Amritsar Sunday. (PTI) Arun Jaitley at an event to mark the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, in Amritsar Sunday. (PTI)

In what he termed as a “polite response” to Congress’s Amritsar candidate Captain Amarinder Singh “resorting to lower the level of debate through personalised and discourteous language”, BJP nominee Arun Jaitley Sunday asked Amarinder if he could tell which state Congress president Sonia Gandhi belonged to.

In response, Amarinder claimed it was “defenceless” Jaitley’s “shameless” attempt to question Sonia’s statehood. On Saturday, Amarinder had called Jaitley an “outsider” and a “pseudo Punjabi”.

“The Congress candidate from Amritsar, Captain Sahib, has still not come to the constituency. Regrettably, he is resorting to his old USP — lower the level of debate through personalised and discourteous language. I have to resist the temptation of reciprocating in the same manner. However, a polite response is necessary,” Jaitley wrote in his “campaign diary” posted on  Facebook.

“Despite my ancestral roots in Punjab, Captain Sahib called me an outsider and a pseudo Punjabi. Will he be kind enough to tell me which state in India does Sonia Gandhi belong to?” Jaitley asked. He added: “Captain Sahib further wants to know if I win from Amritsar, will I shift to Amrtisar? Surely, I will have both an office and a residential base in Amritsar, but will he ever be available to the people of Amritsar at all? Past experience shows that he has been inaccessible not only to the people but also to his own party leaders….”

Later, in a press statement, Amarinder said it was “unbecoming” of a leader like Jaitely to drag Sonia into an argument where he (Jaitely) finds himself to be “defenceless”.
“I always thought Mr Jaitely was a gentleman but I am sorry to read about his shameless attempts to question the statehood of Ms Gandhi, when she had nothing to do with what I had said yesterday…. It is too obvious who is lowering the level of debate by desperately trying to drag someone who has nothing to do in an argument,” he added.

Claiming that Jaitely’s newfound love for his “Punjabi-roots” was “sheer opportunism”, Amarinder said, “…Let Mr Jaitley tell me when did he last visit Punjab, leave aside contesting an election from here.” Replying to Jaitely’s charges of inaccessibility, he said: “I do not want to say whose accessibility should be questioned — the one who has been in electoral politics for the last four-and-a-half decades or the one who has always chosen backdoor entry to the legislature.”

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