Air-travel-loving Captain Amarinder Singh has touched ground within a few days of becoming Punjab Congress president, now going by train and mixing with common people on board.
On Wednesday morning he will pray at the Golden Temple and other shrines to start his second journey as state Congress president. To go from Delhi to Amritsar on Tuesday, they scion of the erstwhile princely state of Patiala, took a general mode of transport and all through the journey, discussed Punjab affairs with the co-passengers, as gathered from a confidant.
Everyone aboard his E-1 coach of the Shatabdi Express took a selfie with the man in middle-row seat 29. Punjab campaign committee head Ambika Soni, Guru Har Sahai legislator Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, former Punjab Youth Congress president Vikramjit Singh Chaudhary, and Amritsar district party president Gurjit Aujla travelled with Amarinder, Soni sitting just opposite him.
On Wednesday, after the Golden Temple visit, Amarinder will also go to the Durgiana Temple and Valmiki shrine at Ram Tirath before reaching Patiala by road. His critics accuse him of being inaccessible, and on Tuesday, he began the journey to break this image. “I met Amarinder for the first time,” said Jalandhar businessman Randeep Singh Walia, a frequent traveller to Delhi, adding: “From what I had heard, I was expecting to meet a high-headed Maharaja. I, on the contrary, found him extra-gracious, curious to know people. The passengers wished him success in his mission.”
Talking to HT while crossing Ambala, Amarinder described interaction with passengers as “a unique experience”. “People give you good feedback about the ground realities. On this journey, I received some valuable suggestions from businessmen travelling with me. After routing the non-performing Badals in the next elections, the Congress will try to implement these ideas,” said the former chief minister, claiming that in the feedback from the passengers, he had sensed “anger against the Akali-BJP rule over lack of development in past nine years”.
Of late, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have travelled by train to strike a chord with the common man. On both his recent trips to Punjab, Rahul picked train journey over chopper ride.
“Badals often accuse Amarinder of living Maharaja style. Travelling to Amritsar by train is the former CM’s a way of telling people to blocks all these voices. We will see him in a new avatar in the coming polls,” said a close aide of the state Congress president. Captain’s confidant Sandeep Sandhu said this visit to the holy city had been kept low-profile to maintain its religious significance.