BJP candidate from the prestigious Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, Hardeep Puri, on Thursday held his first press conference in the city after the announcement of his candidature. As he kickstarted his electoral fight in Amritsar, Hindu and Sikh leaders of BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal put up a united show for Puri.
Dressed in a blue turban, blue jacket and kurta-pajama, Puri spoke to the press at BJP office in the city, which is also a memorial for Harbans Lal Khanna, a BJP leader who was killed by Sikh militants on April 2, 1984. Puri didn’t shy in recognising that former Punjab minister Anil Joshi and Rajinder Mohan Singh Chinna were ticket aspirants and he came around to the idea of contesting from Amritsar only on this Sunday after party informed him.
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Puri said, “Decision to make me a candidate has been taken recently by the party. A few months back, I had promised Chinna that I will support his candidature. It is the generosity of the Chinna and Joshi that they have been sitting with me at the stage. They had legitimate ticket aspirations.” He added, “I must have done something good in a previous life that party selected me as a candidate for Guru’s own city. I started preparation to come here only after Sunday. Then I sent my wife to find a new home. I was announced as a candidate at very short notice, but the time I have is enough to campaign and win.”
Puri said that he will become the voice of Amritsar in the council of ministers after these elections. “Amritsar can be converted into a global city due to its religion, history, culture. I will soon table my vision document on the city. BJP-led NDA is going to form the government. It is clear. I will be in the council of ministers to become the voice of Amritsar there,” he said. Giving credit for Kartarpur Corridor to Centre, he said: “There will be small issues here and there, despite the Kartarpur Sahib corridor will become reality soon.” Reacting to letter written by Punjab CM Amarinder Singh to his party MLAs in the state to support the Congress candidate, he said, “It is a panic reaction and shows nervousness of Congress.”
“I have a long family history with Amritsar but I will not go into that. I have already arranged a house for myself and will acquire one after winning from here. If I am an outsider in Amritsar then what is Rahul Gandhi in Wayanad,” asked Puri while reacting to outsider tag. Puri said that his team was still settling down in Amritsar and will be active soon. There were efforts by his team to bring up a 2010 episode when Puri as an Indian diplomat was asked to remove turban at a US airport. Puri skipped mentioning the alleged ‘episode’ during the press conference, his team, however, managed to somehow interrupt him to get him to talk about it. Later Puri also wrote about it on Facebook.
“After representing India around the world, it is reassuring to be with my own people. I have no doubt that this is one place where my identity, faith or way of life will not be put under scrutiny as it was during an unfortunate incident in a US airport in 2010. But even in the face of severe intimidation, Wahe Guru Ji gave me the strength to hold my ground & not allow anyone to touch my Dastaar. They (US officials) probably understood what ‘sawa lakh se ek ladaun’ means.” He accused then Congress government in Center for failing to react when this incident was reported back.