Newly-elected Amritsar MP Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa should resign owning moral responsibility for the party’s poor show in the state and the latter’s defeat from Gurdaspur. The former chief minister, who defeated BJP’s Arun Jaitley, spoke to HT.
How is your win from Amritsar different from earlier ones?
It is a historic win for me. All along my political career, I have been winning from Patiala that happens to be my hometown. This victory is significant when the entire country and even the adjoining Lok Sabha constituencies voted in favour of the BJP.
Has the win established you as the tallest Congress leader in Punjab?
I don’t know. It’s for the Congress leadership to decide about my role in active politics.
What role do you see for yourself in Punjab now?
My first love has always been Punjab. I would like to strengthen the party for the 2017 assembly polls. I see a huge anger against the SADBJP alliance in the state. People would want to get rid of Akalis as they have ruined the state. I want the party to give me enough time to re-organise and strengthen the party structure.
There is a talk of making you the group leader of the Congress MPs in Parliament.
I’m not aware of it. But if the party high command gives me this responsibility, I will accept it. But my first priority will always be to work for Punjab’s welfare.
Should PPCC chief Partap Bajwa quit after the Congress’ poor show in Punjab?
It should happen immediately. He should take the blame and submit his resignation. I also did the same when the Congress lost to the SAD-BJP alliance in the 2012 assembly polls.
Has the SAD-BJP lost the mandate in Punjab? Should the Congress gear up for the 2017 assembly polls?
Without doubt, the Akalis have lost the mandate. They have lost from 78 assembly segments. They have failed to keep the lofty promises they made to the people before coming to power in 2012.
How do you see AAP’s role in defeating Congress and SAD-BJP candidates?
AAP’s good showing in Punjab makes it clear that there has been a huge anger against the Akalis which the Congress failed to capitalise on. Besides Akalis, we also have to tackle AAP that is a party with no experience in politics.
When will infighting in your party end as it has prevented the Congress from cashing in on the anti-Akali sentiment?
I think it should end immediately. The high command has to take a call and be decisive on the future leadership in Punjab. Punjab is the only state in northern India where the Congress can bounce back in the near future.
Who is responsible for Preneet Kaur’s defeat from Patiala, especially when it is in your own backyard?
I think AAP played a significant role in Preneet’s defeat. She was a union minister and as in the case of other central ministers, there has been a huge anti-incumbency factor against her too.