As the Congress pats itself for fielding Captain Amarinder Singh to make things a lot tougher for Arun Jaitely in his debut contest in Amritsar, the senior BJP leader has chosen to hit back. He has delved into documents being sent to him from Singh's rivals from his own party and others about controversial decisions during his tenure as chief minister of Punjab from 2002 to 2007.
"I am back in Amritsar for the campaign. Being faced with arrogant comments each day from my opponent I have started reading up on his performance and achievements. I went through the details of a charge-sheet filed by the Vigilance Bureau in relation to a 2005 project in the city of Ludhiana where all rules were flouted by the then government," said Jaitley, writing his campaign diary on Thursday.
Dismissing the talk that he would get pinned down in Amritsar because of Singh, Jaitely told HT that "I thought we could have a decent fight but he has chosen to make it otherwise. We are ready to go on the offensive."
Jaitley, whose family has also shifted to Amritsar to join the campaign, charged that Singh as CM had directed the removal of the chairman of the Improvement Trust in Ludhiana "so that a more pliable gentleman could be appointed. Bidding documents were prepared without the necessary approvals. The bids were rigged in order to favour a particular bidder. Official position was abused in order to show benefits to a private party."
Jaitely alleged that "worst still the charge-sheet mentions that payments were made by the beneficiary to the CM and his family members and the money trail led them to a particular middleman with whom the monies were parked. The charge-sheet does not make out a reading which may flatter anyone. The charge-sheet states that the then CM kept the vigilance report in his custody without taking any action and did not hand over the original report to the authorities after demitting his office."
Singh, of course, dismissed the charge saying that it was a clear case of political vendetta unleashed by his allies on him and his party workers.
A confident Jaitely believed that a reluctant Singh was forced to contest by Congress chief and “is now making up for his reluctance by appearing to be on the offensive.” Once in the battle, Singh has said he is there to fight. First, he questioned Jaitely's foray in Amritsar by dubbing him as an "outsider." To which, Jaitely responded by asking Singh to name the state to which his party chief belonged. Later the issue of Operation Bluestar became the bone of contention.
Singh's latest salvo was that Jaitley did not want the BJP to win more than 160 seats to queer pitch for party's prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi. He claimed that people like Jaitley and few others hope that in case BJP got less than 160 seats it will be difficult for Modi to become the PM. Jaitley dismissed it as a bundle of lies.