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Sunday, July 22, 2018

People have voted for change in style of governance, says Sunil Kumar Jakhar

Newly appointed Punjab Congress president Sunil Kumar Jakhar speaks to The Indian Express on the challenges he is set to face, promises made by his party, deliverance, his predecessor and Rahul Gandhi.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Published: May 11, 2017 7:46:54 am
Sunil Kumar Jakhar, jhakar, congress, congress chief, jhakar congress, amarinder singh, indian express news, india news Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and newly appointed PPCC chief Sunil Jakhar in Chandigarh Wednesday. Source: Jasbir Malhi

What are the challenges you could face after taking over as president of Punjab Congress?

The biggest challenge is to realise the expectations of not only the party workers but the people of Punjab, who have voted for us with an overwhelming mandate. People have not only voted for a change in the government but also for a change in style of governance. It is not just for the removal of red beacons to do away with VIP culture but also empowering the common man and bringing him at par with any powerful person in the government.

Do you think your party promised moon to the people as it will require huge funds to fulfill those promises?

It will certainly require a lot of effort to fulfill those promises. But Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has the intent to fulfill all that he has promised. The promises were not unrealistic. Issue of farmers debt is a problem, unemployment is an issue. This is the whole reason that BJP has taken a leaf out of our book of promises. They are replicating them in Uttar Pradesh. While we are making efforts to help farmers on loan waiver, the Centre too should come to the rescue of our farmers. The Centre and state should work together to deliver promises. Also, I will make sure that we probe the infamous food scam worth Rs 31,000 crore. The state will have to repay Rs 70,000 crore for 20 years to clear debt. Rs 70,000 crore could help us deliver all our promises. We will make sure the scam is probed and those guilty are made to pay the money back to the exchequer.

A general perception seems to be gaining ground that UP government, sworn in at the same time as Punjab, is delivering its promises faster. What is your opinion?

They are just marketing themselves. For instance, they claimed to have waived off farmers debt. Reality is that they have just extended a benefit of Rs 2,000-3,000 crore and not more. Here, Captain sahib is talking about waiving off the debt of commission agents also. He has already constituted an expert panel to assess the debt.

By when will your government start delivering?

As far as mitigating problems is concerned, we are already delivering. There was such a smooth procurement of grains that farmers did not face any problem for a single day. Did anyone crib? Or raise any issue? Our government has already constituted a commission to look into false cases, Bargadi sacrilege. Nobody in reality expects 35 lakh jobs to be created in seven weeks. It will be a gradual process.

Will you work as an independent entity as PPCC president or in the shadow of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh?

We both have different roles. He is the head of the government. I will be a bridge between government and the party workers. Party steps in if the government is unable to deliver. Our government is already delivering as I told you about smooth procurement etc.

If you feel the government is not delivering, would you tell them?

We will be in a constant interaction mode. There is always scope for improvement and problems arise when there is no communication.

Do you think your predecessor Capt Amarinder’s boots are too big for you?

He is the leader. Punjab has voted for him in an unparalleled manner. I will work under his guidance.

Is AICC Vice-President Rahul Gandhi ready to hold the baton from Sonia Gandhi?

I definitely think he is ready to take on the challenge.

He supervised and monitored Punjab elections for one-and-half-year. People want him to take the lead role. It is for the party and him to decide now. He wants Punjab to be a model state, run by the government in a model way for others to follow.

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