Punjab polls: Rahul to name CM face today, Sidhu on offensive
Navjot Singh Sidhu, president of the Congress party’s Punjab unit and a contender for the chief ministerial candidate ahead of the assembly elections, said on Saturday that whoever the party selects for the top post will have absolute power, stressing that only someone with people’s trust can ensure 60 MLAs in the 117-member assembly.
Sidhu is contesting the February 20 elections from the Amritsar East constituency. His statement came a day before Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is set to announce the party’s chief ministerial face for the polls.
“The leader selected will have absolute power. The state is like a pyramid. One person will make it to the top,” Sidhu said at a media briefing in Amritsar. “Remember, thieves were made to sit at the top and the state became bankrupt. Make an honest person the CM this time, a person with a vision.”
“The CM will be made if 60 MLAs are made. No one is talking about the 60 MLAs. No one is talking about the road map to government formation. Did I budge from policy? Did I move from the budgetary allocations? Did Sidhu open his own sand mine or liquor shop? I may be the only one person whose income has diminished in crores. But I am satisfied. My Punjab model is for changing the lives of children, youngsters and people of Punjab. It is for reining in thieves. That is why thieves and their brothers have got together. They are seeing their shops will be closed. Will a person connected with the mafia stop the mafia? For 30 years, two CMs ran the mafia,” he alleged.
Sidhu earlier said that “people at the top” want a weak chief minister in the state who will run the government according to their wishes. He, however, did not clarify whether he was referring to the central leadership of the Congress.
Talking about his model for Punjab on Saturday, Sidhu said, “I have given a proper plan. If we follow it, the state goes upward. Prices of sand and cable will be fixed in the state,” adding that ₹5,000 crore should come into the state’s exchequer from cable TV networks, and the permits should be given to youngsters.
He hit out at former chief minister Amarinder Singh — who floated the Punjab Lok Congress after his exit from the Congress. He also criticised Delhi chief minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arwind Kejriwal.
“The Punjab Model is Sidhu’s experience. It is not a remote control of someone who is sitting in New Delhi... He (Kejriwal) is saying that fake Kejriwals were roaming, but I can say that fake Sidhu is roaming,” Sidhu said, claiming that his model for Punjab was photocopied by Kejriwal.
Speaking at the same press conference, former AAP member of Parliament from Patiala-turned-rebel Dharamvira Gandhi, supporting Sidhu, said, “The determination that I have seen in Sidhu is not there in any other political leader or party. Punjab was a surplus state... but now there is negativity associated with its name. Farmers are committing suicide, the state lags in education, and the drug problem is rampant. Those responsible for the state’s destruction have stood against Sidhu.”
He added, “I am not a member of the Congress. I don’t want anything from the Congress. I have just come here to support Sidhu, who is determined to make the future of Punjab.”