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"Corruption is an issue"

Amarinder Singh believes that his mantra of offence will pay dividends this time.
PTI | By HT Correspondent
PUBLISHED ON APR 30, 2004 11:59 AM IST

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who has constantly targeted his opponents on the issue of corruption, believes that his mantra of offence is the best defence will pay dividends even this time. Singh spoke to Raveen Thukral on various issues. Excerpts:

What are the major issues on which you are seeking votes?

We are going to compare our achievements of two years with five years of Akali rule. Power for instance is going to be major issue. We have successfully provided quality and continuous power for at least 10 hours to the agriculture sector. By June-end we will provide 24-hour power to all villages. Our policies and the anti-corruption drive have sent the right signals and the corporate world is finally looking at Punjab as a destination.

Don't you think that issues that you have listed are more suited for an assembly election rather than a general election?

We have a national manifesto which we are going to highlight. However, local issues will dominate.

The ad war between the Congress and the Akalis has become vicious. How do you look at it?

I think the people have a right to know. If the Akali Dal thinks that I am a Ravana with 12 heads, they have a right to sell it to the people. It's a separate thing whether the people believe it or not.

Your adversaries claim that in two years your government has achieved a level of anti-incumbency that is normally witnessed in a five-year term.

This is absolutely wrong. We are getting a massive response and the uncommitted vote is totally with us. Corruption is a major issue and our performance has been far better than the Akalis in every field. Independent surveys show that 68 per cent people in Punjab are convinced that the Badals are corrupt to the core.

What about dissidence in the Congress?

I don't think it's an issue. Though differences of opinion might exist, no one will go to the extent of harming the party. Even those who may want to do so will not succeed.

Your adversaries, both within the party and outside, are claiming that the outcome of these elections would determine your future as CM.

This has never bothered me. I have always gone into battles clearheaded and with an intention of winning. I am sure we will win this one too.

It is said that your corruption drive against Badal has consolidated the Akalis and earned them sympathy. Your comments.

We came to power on the sole promise of exposing Badal and punishing him for his corrupt deeds. We have fulfilled our commitment. And if in the process the corrupt Akalis have got together to save themselves, then let it be.

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