The rising popularity graph of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, where assembly polls are due early next year, seems to be a matter of concern for the Congress.
This was quite evident during ‘Coffee with Captain’ --- a programme launched by Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh to interact with people, especially youth, here on Wednesday.
On the lines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Chai pe Charcha’, the interactive programme is the brainchild of party’s poll strategist Prashant Kishor.
Interacting with the public at the Rose Garden here, Amarinder said: “To bring Punjab out of the doldrums, an experienced party with an equally experienced leader was needed at the helm of affairs for the next five years.
“This is not the time for trial and error methods,”, he said while replying to a query from a youngster on the growing popularity of AAP.
On perception that the voters of the state were keen to give a third party (AAP) a chance after having seen both Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP and the Congress govern the state, Amarinder said: “Please do not try this experiment or else Punjab will drown completely. We have to pull the state out of its numerous problems and for this an experience leader was required.”
The PPCC chief said the AAP doesn’t have any experienced leader in its ranks who is capable of handling the multiple problems plaguing the state.
On Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, he pointed to his Haryanvi background and asked, “Why should he be concerned for a state which has several pending issues and disputes like the sharing of river waters with Haryana. Why should we trust him?.”
Promises to eradicate corruption
On steps he proposes to take to check corruption if the Congress assumes power, Amarinder promised to set up a powerful institution --- Lokpal --- that will include the chief minister under its jurisdiction. “We will clean the system from the top”, he said.
Appeal to farmers
On increasing number of suicides by debt-ridden farmers, Captain asked farmers not to take the extreme step. “Once we come to power, we will make sincere efforts to solve your (farmers) problems,” he said.
Prune VIP security
A number of youngsters expressed their opposition to manner in which VIPs and their relatives move around surrounded by armed police guards. “I will withdraw around 15,000 police personnel on VIP duty and deploy them for general policing,” said Captain.
The PPCC chief declared that this would be his last election. The younger generation should be given a chance to govern the state, he added. “Every soldier has to hang up his boots someday”, Captain quipped as he freely mingled with some youngsters at the end of the question-answer session.