Captain Amarinder Singh, Congress deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, on Saturday met the relatives of the Indians held hostage in Iraq and agreed to take up their matter with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
Addressing reporters later, he said it was time that the Indian government settled all doubts about the fate of the captives, hoping that the ordeal of the families would be over soon. He said he would seek an appointment with the external affairs minister for Monday.
Referring to the incident where a jobless woman had set herself ablaze outside the residence of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday, the Congress leader said it reflected how the government had failed to reduce unemployment. "Desperation might have driven her to taking the extreme step," he said.
Replying to another query, the former CM said that converting to another faith should be by choice and not forced. "Individual faith should be respected and guarded, since the Constitution guarantees it," he said.
Amarinder scoffed at rumours about his joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP); and regretted that some newspapers had reported it falsely without even confirming with him. On the Akali-BJP rift, the Congress leader said: "They were equal partners in crime for the past eight years. The BJP cannot escape the responsibility for everything that has gone wrong in Punjab."
Earlier in the day, the Amritsar MP attended Jagannath Yatra and paid his obeisance to the Lord before addressing party workers at the house of district Congress (rural) president Gurjeet Singh Aujla.