Former Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today made it clear he is not interested in fighting the Lok Sabha elections from Amritsar where BJP has fielded senior leader Arun Jaitley.
Amarinder made his stand known against the backdrop of speculation that the top Congress leadership is keen on fielding him from Amritsar to take on the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.
In a statement, he maintained that Congress had strong, powerful and influential local leaders in Amritsar who can successfully take on Jaitley.
"Amritsar is a strong Congress bastion and the party has won the seat several times," he said.
Amarinder said besides being an outsider he does not know Amritsar as much as someone from that area. "I will also not be able to spend required period of time there."
According to reports, the top Congress leadership has been told by Punjab Congress Chief Partap Singh Bajwa that Amarinder could be a formidable candidate to take on Jaitley, the SAD-BJP alliance nominee who has replaced sitting BJP member Navjot Sidhu.
Amarinder said even if he contested and was elected as an MP from Amritsar he will not be able to do justice for the people there as compared to a local.
"I would not be able to do justice with the people of Amritsar as their MP for multiple reasons, besides not being able to contest from there at the first instance," he said.
Amarinder said that about three weeks ago when he had met Congress President Sonia Gandhi, she had made an offer to him that he contest from Bathinda or Amritsar.
He said that he had clarified at that time itself that he will not be in a position to contest since his wife Perneet Kaur was contesting from Patiala.
"Moreover, he added, his presence was required across the state and contesting from Amritsar would simply confine him to one single constituency," he said, adding he had already a long list of requests from the sitting and prospective candidates from all parliamentary constituencies across the state that he campaign for them.
Arguing that the party must field a local candidate who is well versed with the local issues and problems, Amarinder said, the people of Amritsar are already fatigued and frustrated because of an "absentee MP" (Navjot Sidhu) and they will not like to replace one absentee MP with the other.
"While the previous one was still visible once in a while, the present one (Arun Jaitley) if elected, will never ever be seen around given his interests and commitments in Delhi," he pointed out. PTI