Congress MP Gurjeet Singh Aujla is once again in the race for the party ticket from Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, especially after former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh declined Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s request to contest from the seat. Aujla tells The Indian Express that he is facing opposition from within party but insists that now his claim to the ticket is stronger. Aujla had won bypoll to Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in 2017. The seat had fallen vacant after then MP Amarinder Singh resigned to protest against the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal water sharing agreement.
What are your achievements as member of parliament from Amritsar.
I had a short tenure but my list of achievements is long. The biggest achievement is that I played a crucial role in making Kartarpur Sahib Corridor a reality. I was member of Parliament committee on External Affairs that took a round of the border areas, including Dera Baba Nanak. The committee recommended that Kartarpur Sahib corridor should be constructed ahead of the upcoming 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev ji. Several new flights have been launched from Amritsar airport. I also made railways complete several pending projects and start construction of platform number 7 at Amritsar railway station.
How many questions you asked in parliament?
I asked 40 questions and I participated in 13 debates in my term starting from March 2017.
Despite your achievements, you are not first choice for the party ticket. Party wanted Manmohan Singh to contest from Amritsar.
Party must have thought about larger benefits at state level with Dr Manmohan Singh contesting from Amritsar. But then I had started as a worker in the party and every worker faces challenges in journey. When you are from a humble family background then you have to face all such things. It is normal.
Do you think you are still in a race after Dr Singh refused to contest?
Now it is my right to contest from Amritsar. I have performed well as an MP. You can check me on any parameter. I have worked in the Parliament. I have worked on the field. Party will not find any complaint against me from the field level workers. I had won with a margin of 2 lakh votes in 2017.
But it is said that MLAs in Amritsar are against you.
There may be one or two who have issues with me. Many MLAs have favoured my name for the party ticket. Every ticket claimant faces opposition. It is a democratic process. Everyone has the right to oppose anyone’s name. But things will eventually settle down. Only a few persons have been lobbying against me but they don’t have anything concrete against me.
There was a perception that you were very close to Amarinder Singh. Are you no more in his good books?
There is no nothing like that. Captain Amarinder Singh is 100 per cent with me.
There was a controversy after you gave some grant to Chandigarh golf club.
I did give some fund and it was within my powers as an MP. It was not first and last time when some MP had given funds to an organisation outside his constituency. Some ex-army officials had come to me and sought funds. My father was also in the army. So I gave them the fund. There was nothing wrong in it but some people blew it up out of proportion.
Do you think controversy has affected your claim to the ticket?
No, It will have no negative impact because I have worked and what would make impact is how I performed on the field and in the Parliament. Ministers like Navjot Singh Sidhu, Om Parkash Soni, MLA Raj Kumar Verka all are with me. I don’t think there will be any problem.
The BJP wanted to filed an outsider in Amritsar. Your party was also attempting the same. Why do parties want outsider in Amritsar ?
A: I will never say that Dr Manmohan Singh is an outsider to Amritsar. Outsiders have nothing to do with Amritsar. Local leaders know what is happening on the ground. People feel cheated if you bring someone from outside.