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HindustanTimes Wed,26 Nov 2014

Capt Amarinder Singh aims to encash army background

PTI  Amritsar, April 08, 2014
First Published: 13:07 IST(8/4/2014) | Last Updated: 18:28 IST(8/4/2014)

Eyeing the large number of votes of ex-servicemen, Capt Amarinder Singh has been repeatedly invoking his army background and participation in the 1965 Indo-Pak war, an averment which his main rival BJP's Arun Jaitely may find hard to match in the April 30 polling.

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Of the approximate 6.5 lakh ex-servicemen in Punjab, about 55,000 live in this border constituency, spread over nine assembly seats. Total voters in this Sikh-dominated constituency are about 15 lakh.

A leading ex-serviceman Lt Col Harjinder Singh Sangha said defence personnel are apolitical persons and will support right persons.

As far as votes for the former chief minister are concerned, he said, "I think ex-servicemen will definitely support Capt Amarinder as he is our representative."  Realising the importance of ex-servicemen in the holy city, Amarinder has appointed Gurjit Singh Jawanda, who participated in the 1971 Indo-Pak war as Air Force pilot, to ensure that the former defence personnel vote for Congress.

"They (ex-servicemen) have no demands. They just want to live a life of dignity which they enjoy while in service," Capt Jawanda said, adding that the retired defence personnel consider the former Chief Minister to be one of their own.

Jawanda is expanding his team to directly contact ex-servicemen living in villages around Amritsar city.

He claims as Amarinder does not make "false promises" and 80 per cent of them will vote for him.

Jawanda blamed the SAD-BJP government for not doing anything for the segment, while Amarinder did a lot, like creating vocational programmes for children and widows.

If large numbers of ex-servicemen actually vote for the Congress candidate, it may make Jaitley's task of winning Amritsar exceedingly difficult.

In his media interactions and elsewhere, Amarinder has laid stress on his links with armed forces and Amritsar.

He reminded voters that it was his great grandfather Maharaja Rajinder Singh who donated a large tract of land on which the Khalsa College Amritsar stands.

He also talked about the development work he did for the city during his stint as chief minister (2002-07).

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