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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Will contest 2017 assembly polls: Amarinder

Vishal Rambani, Hindustan Times  Patiala, August 17, 2014
First Published: 22:52 IST(17/8/2014) | Last Updated: 07:44 IST(18/8/2014)

With an apparent eye on the chief minister’s chair, Congress deputy leader in Lok Sabha and Amritsar MP Capt Amarinder Singh on Sunday reiterated his love for state politics saying he would contest the 2017 assembly elections.

Though he may be out of state politics for the time being, Amarinder hinted that he would like to lead the party in 2017. During the recent Lok Sabha election, state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa had projected himself as the next chief minister.

In a ‘Meet the Press’ hosted by the Patiala Media Club here, Amarinder said he would ever remain involved in state politics.

When asked as to from where he would contest – Amritsar or Patiala -- Amarinder said that was for the party to decide. “What is final is that I will contest the 2017 assembly elections from anywhere the party fields me,” he said, adding that Punjab politics was his first choice. “The day I won the Amritsar Lok Sabha election, I had apprised Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi that state politics was my first love.”

Replying to a question about the SAD’s alleged attempts at polarising voters along communal lines, he said it was sad and condemnable and that people of Patiala did not think along those lines. “Qila Mubarak, the symbol of Patiala’s heritage, has the symbols of three religions -- Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims -- existing side by side for over three centuries,” he said, adding, “That is our culture and heritage, and people of Patiala cannot be divided along communal lines as they are more Patialvis than anything else.”

He said Patiala is a city of culture with a true secular heritage. He condemned the attempts by vested interests to communalise the culture by trying to identify different candidates contesting the bypoll along religious lines.

The former chief minister fielded a wide range of questions during the interaction, including when he was planning to write his autobiography and what prompted him to write a book on World War I.

He said he would definitely write his autobiography once he got time. About the book on World War I, he said it was about India’s contribution to the War.

Referring to Patiala’s development, Amarinder said that after PEPSU, if Patiala had seen any development, it was only during the 2002-2007 Congress rule through Patiala Development Authority (PDA). He said when he left in 2007, the PDA had Rs. 260 crore in its account for completion of various works started by him. But, the Badals ran away with the money and spent it in Lambi and Bathinda, he alleged.

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