Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh talks to Kanchan Vasdev on the outcome of his overseas trip, strategist Prashant Kishor, fund crunch faced by the party, his former colleagues Bir Devinder and Jagmeet Singh Brar.
Is the Congress preparing to take expelled leaders, Jagmeet Brar and Bir Devinder back?
They will not return as long as I am there. Life was all about discipline for me. How can we take these people back who have always been speaking against the party interest. The party gave them a chance. We brought them back in the party fold. Still they continued to speak against me. I placated Jagmeet. He sang songs in my praise before he started attacking me again. His animosity with me dates back when I was made the Punjab Congress chief. Same goes with Bir. All he does is attack. He got angry because I rang him up and asked why he set up his office in Ghanaur (Assembly segment in Patiala) when the party is yet to decide whether to give him a ticket or not.
But Prashant Kishor met them at CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi’s house when you were abroad. Were you not aware?
Prashant’s business is to strategise. Running the party is my business. Prashant has no business to interfere in this. Taking somebody back or recommending somebody’s expulsion is my job. That’s why I say he does not understand the intricacies of Punjab politics. Now, if he says he is in touch with an Akali or BJP leader to take him in Congress fold; it is me who will have to take a call. Afterall, I understand the intricacies. If he says he can take someone from Batala, then I know it is Ashwani’s (Sekhri, MLA from Batala ) seat. He (Prashant) does not know this. How can I upset the system?
How was your overseas trip?
The response was overwhelming. The diaspora considers AAP a bunch of fraudsters. I visited Chicago, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Francisco besides addressing e-rallies in Toronto and Vancouver. I do not see any groundswell for AAP. Last year, I visited the UK. There also I did not see any support for them. Preneet (Kaur, Amarinder’s wife) visited Australia and New Zealand. She also says there is no fascination for AAP as it is being projected.
Wasn’t Sikh for Justice (SFJ) blocking you in Canada a dampener?
I cancelled my visit to Canada. Not the rallies. I addressed people through Skype. NRIs posed so much of confidence in me that a handful of people, working on an agenda, do not mean anything.
Did you manage some funds from abroad?
No, I was not there to organise funds. I was there to meet the diaspora and find out what they expect from Punjab government. We are not getting funds from them. Let AAP do it.
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Is the Congress not facing paucity of funds?
Yes, we are. I am paying the AICC Rs 1 lakh every month. Every Congress MP is contributing to run party affairs. Our members are contributing. We will start collecting funds before the elections.