Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh dubbed the first list of 19 candidates announced by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as a “flop show”. At the same time, he also went ahead and welcomed those left high and dry by the party to the Congress ship.
Addressing a press conference here, he said the bickering in AAP against the first list of candidates was “just the beginning”. “They had 31 contenders in Sultanpur Lodhi. They announced the name of the one not on the list. Similarly, in Mohali, Himmat Singh Shergill was announced overlooking the claims of 19 others. We too face the rebel trouble. But the AAP will face more rebellion as it is a new party,” he said.
On AAP state convener Sucha Singh Chottepur showing resentment against the list, he said people have started realising that the AAP was being run and managed by a team from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. “They didn’t bother to take the state convener into confidence before finalising the list. Chottepur is my old friend. But I do not want to embarrass him by inviting him to join the Congress nor will he leave the party,” he said.
On the first list announced by AAP, Amarinder said, “It’s a flop list. I have asked all MLAs and leaders where AAP has announced its candidates. They all said ‘wadiya ho gaya’ (it is good for them). They are overestimating themselves after forming their government in Delhi. But people there are already disillusioned with Arvind Kejriwal’s government in two years. He is not bothered about Punjab. Kejriwal is eyeing the 2019 parliamentary elections when he wants to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”
On Congress list of candidates, he said the screening will start after applications are received from the ticket hopefuls by August 15 and the list will be out only in September. He said both the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) are doing their own surveys to find the right candidates. “Even candidates are getting their individual surveys done,” he said, while dismissing the contention of Congress Legislature Party leader Charanjit Singh Channi that he too is getting surveys done across Punjab. “He must be getting one done for his seat Chamkaur Sahib and not across the state,” he said.
He said no application fee is being charged from the applicants. “Earlier, the candidates for general seats paid Rs 10,000 and Rs 5,000 was taken for reserved seats, This time, we have asked them to show two voters per booth to ensure only serious contenders apply,” he said.
Badal trying to polarise Punjab before polls: Capt
Accusing Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of attempting to “polarise” people along religious lines ahead of elections in the state, Amarinder held him responsible for the current state of affairs. Referring to murderous attack on an RSS leader in Jalandhar, he said, “There is a pattern in the incidents beginning from the desecration of the holy book in Bargadi to the recent attack on an RSS leader. This is a deliberate attempt at polarising people and Badal believes that polarisation will help him in elections without realising how dangerous and disastrous it can turn to be.” He also questioned the AAP’s silence over the attack on the RSS leader. “They have not even condemned the attack and I don’t know whether they are trying to please someone or are ignorant about the seriousness of the matter,” he added.
‘Dope test for police recruitment a fraud’
Reacting to government claims that the results of the dope tests done during police recruitment have “exposed” the false claims of the opposition Congress and the AAP, he said, “Who is getting the dope test? Who are releasing the results and who gain from the results? It is all a fraud and drama.”
Helpline for ex-servicemen
Amarinder launched a helpline for ex-servicemen after addressing their convention here. Responding to their demands, he said ex-servicemen will be given due recognition and representation in his government. “The Congress government will accord priority to the ex-servicemen in the allotment of tubewell connections,” he added.