Captain Amarinder Singh is the Congress’s chief ministerial candidate in Punjab for all practical purposes, but the party continues to shy away from declaring it officially.
Less than a month to go for Assembly elections, the Congress released its manifesto for Punjab on Monday. The 139-page document starts with “Captain De Naun Nukte” (Captain’s nine points), which include promises like stamping out the drug problem in four weeks, job for every household, waiver of agricultural debt and free housing for all homeless Dalits and backward people.
Minutes after the document was released came a ringing endorsement of Amarinder’s leadership from former PM Manmohan Singh. After releasing the manifesto, Singh hailed Amarinder’s leadership, which he said was badly needed for Punjab.
So, is Amarinder officially the party’s CM candidate? When this question was put to AICC general secretary Asha Kumari, she merely said “Captain Amarinder is officially the president of the PCC leading the party”.
The manifesto was released by Singh in the presence of Amarinder, Asha Kumari, Punjab campaign committee chief Ambika Soni and senior Punjab leader Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.
The Congress’s continued reluctance to officially declare Amarinder as the CM candidate has baffled his supporters and injected a sense of insecurity. The party, interestingly, had months ago declared Sheila Dikshit as its chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh, where it nurses no hope of coming to power on its own.
Singh, meanwhile, slammed the Akali-BJP government accusing it of “misusing” governance in the last 10 years. He called the Congress manifesto a “visionary document” that promises to undo the damage that was done to the Punjab economy in the last 10 years. “Capt Sahab’s leadership is badly needed at this time because in him we have a leader of great vision. In him, we have a leader who has lot of wealth of experience and his commitment to the cause of development of Punjab is unrivaled,” he said.
Amarinder promised he would distribute free smart phones to the youth, generate 25-26 lakh jobs in five years to provide employment to all households, crack down on drugs and corruption, bring a new industrial policy within 90 days, end VIP culture, bring sweeping economic reforms and total transparency in governance. On the SYL canal issue, he said there was no additional water in Punjab that can be spared.
Note ban will be a poll issue: Manmohan
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the BJP government’s decision to demonetise high-value currency notes had “adversely affected” the economy and argued it would be an issue in the Assembly elections in five states. “In general, I would say that demonetisation is an important issue which will figure among other states in Punjab as well,” he said.
He said demonetisation would greatly affect the GDP and national income. “It has been completely proved that it will impact national income and the GDP. Some days ago, the national income unit of the CSO has come out with a statement that the GDP growth will be 7.1 per cent as against the target of 7.6 per cent which was earlier mentioned. But this does not account the effect of the demonetisation on the system,” he said.\