At the show of strength of Congress youth wing National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) on Thursday at Panjab University here, Punjab Congress president Captain Amarinder Singh had to face some tough questions from youth, and to his credit, he did not duck any.
The interaction was part of ‘Jago Punjab’ campaign of the Congress to reach out to youth before the 2017 state elections and know their aspirations. Most questions were targeted at the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) government in Punjab but some were shot direct at Amarinder, ranging from his coterie to the boycott of the Khadoor Sahib by-election. “Will you also boycott the 2017 assembly elections if the case of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib remains unresolved?” someone asked him.
Quick to reply, Amarinder said: “The sacrilege case has been handed over to the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation), which will give its report in about 10 years. Tab tak te Parkash Singh Badal ne vi nahi rehna (by then even the CM may not be alive).” He added that the 2017 elections would be fought on agenda of dethroning the Akalis, whom the Congress would try its best to dislodge.
One of the students asked Amarinder how would he run the government if he came to power in 2017. “By yourself or as earlier with the help of a coterie that includes controversial people such as Bharat Inder Singh Chahal?” Captain fielded this one, too, saying a chief minister could not do everything alone and even he needed team support. “Everyone has some or the other controversy; but in our next term, we will have the right people to assist the CM and ensure that he gets the best possible advice,” said Amarinder.
Another student wanted to know why the Congress couldn’t gherao Badal family’s buses like Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann had done. Amarinder replied: “They (Badals) are operating on illegal routes. (If we came to power) We will distribute these permits among the unemployed youth and also provide them with loans to buy buses.”
A girl from the University Institute of Chemical Engineering and Technology (UICET) asked Amarinder if his prospective government would provide jobs to youth, something every government promised. Captain said at least one member of each family should get a job, for which, his potential government would attract industry to the state and improve the quality of education from the primary level. “It is Punjab’s misfortune that 80% of our children educated in government schools fail to get jobs later on,” he added.