Dismissing any competition from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday described “drugs, corruption and the misgovernance” of the Parkash Singh Badal government as the key issues in Punjab polls.
He said the poll outcome would be determined by “anti-incumbency” against the ruling Badals and “total collapse of the AAP as a movement that had earlier inspired people”.
Replying to a question on Akali Dal likely to field former army chief General JJ Singh against him from the Patiala (urban) constituency, Amarinder said he would be happy to fight against another former armyman. He, however, pointed out that General Singh had no connect whatsoever with Patiala. “He says Patiala is his “nanke” (maternal grandparents’ home). And, as the saying goes, hum unko naani yaad dila denge,” Amarinder said in a lighter vein while talking to reporters in New Delhi.
‘BUDGET BEFORE POLLS VIOLATION OF NORMS’
Amarinder also flayed the Narendra Modi government’s decision to announce the Union budget before the assembly elections in five states as blatant violation of all political and electoral norms. He said the move was manifestly aimed at minimising the negative impact of demonetisation on the poll prospects of the BJP. “In usual disregard for political propriety, the PM had chosen to advance the budget date from the traditional February 28 of every year to February 1 with an eye on the polls. It is more than evident that Modi’s demonetisation move had backfired on his government as BJP’s own workers were now coming out in protest against the demonetisation decision in poll-bound states, including Punjab, where the ruling SAD-BJP combine had also reportedly complained to the Centre about its electorally detrimental effect. But gimmickry of budget sops would not translate into votes for the BJP and its allies,” he said.
‘SIDHU JOINING SOON’
On cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, Amarinder said he would soon be joining the Congress and the party would like to utilise his services to campaign in the entire state. Accusing AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal of spreading misinformation on the issue, he dubbed it as a desperate bid to undermine his (Captain’s) role in the Congress. “Kejriwal should worry about his own party,” he said.