With Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh having announced to recommend his name as party candidate from Bathinda (urban) assembly segment for the 2017 assembly polls, former finance minister Surinder Singla virtually started his ‘campaigning’ in the city on Monday. However, murmurs of opposition have started emerging among Congress leaders against Singla’s probable candidature with a section of Congress leaders questioning his long absence from the city.
Singla, who has remained away from political activity in Bathinda after 2007, started his activity by meeting party workers at the circuit house here and people in Gandhi Market and Paras Ram Nagar. Many of the Congress workers thronged the circuit house to meet Singla, but many of city party leaders maintained a distance.
Talking to media, Singla said it was the wish of the Punjab Congress president so he has started the activity here. “I have the understanding of general issues of Bathinda, but will also have to know about the main problems,” he said.
Questioning Badals’ claim of ‘unprecedented’ development in the city during the SAD-BJP government in two tenures, Singla said that the absence of basic amenities, such as sewerage, drinking water and cleanliness, are still haunting the people here.
Trying to strike a chord with city residents, he said that people of Bathinda are smart, but the Punjab government has failed in making this city a smart city. “I have dreams of converting this city into a smartest city after the Congress forms government in Punjab, led by Captain Amarinder Singh,” he said, questioning the failure of the SAD-BJP government in getting included Bathinda in the list of the cities for the smart city project.
On his opposition by some of the Congressmen, he said that all the workers and leaders would stand united in the fight against the SAD-BJP government. Asked particularly about the stake on the party ticket by former MLA Hamrinder Singh Jassi from this segment, Singla said that development works done by him must be seen. Amarinder had last week announced to recommend Singla as a candidate from this seat saying that his name has emerged as first preference in the feedback taken by party.
Meanwhile, Jassi, when asked about Singla trying to compare the development work, said that Singla was city MLA when Congress had government in state while he was an opposition MLA. Singla has remained Bathinda (urban) MLA from 2002-2007 and served as Punjab finance minister in Captain Amarinder Singh-led government.
Jassi, however, questioned Singla’s absence from the city after 2007, when the Congress workers were facing brutalities by the SAD-BJP alliance government. Indirectly referring to Singla, Jassi said that Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that tickets wouldn’t be allotted to parachute leaders and those, who don’t have any connect with the people. Though, he added that he would stand by any candidate of the party in the segment.