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Captain Amarinder spares BJP, blames Akalis for combine’s bypoll defeat

Amarinder chose to describe the victory as revival of the Congress and countdown to its returning to power at the Centre in 2019 general elections.

punjab Updated: Oct 15, 2017 22:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

A triumphant Congress did not lose time in inflicting a blow to the Akali Dal-BJP relations after its landslide victory in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll on Sunday.

Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh addressed the media in the evening flanked by state president and now Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar and blamed the Akalis for the combine’s defeat.

“The Congress did well in five assembly seats contested by the Akalis as part of the alliance — Dera Baba Nanak, Fatehgarh Churian, Gurdaspur, Batala and Qadian. It shows people are fed up of the Akalis. BJP candidate Swaran Salaria was comfortable in the four seats which had Rajput votes,” the CM said.

“The verdict has proved that the SAD is an unwanted baggage for the BJP... it’s beginning of end of the coalition.”

Jakhar added more insult to the injury by saying the verdict has proved that the SAD is an “unwanted baggage” for the BJP. “The Gurdaspur verdict is beginning of dissolution of the coalition,” he said.

While Amarinder chose to describe the victory as revival of the Congress and countdown to its returning to power at the Centre in 2019 general elections, Jakhar said it was “beginning of the downfall of the BJP”.

“People have given their verdict against the policies of the Narendra Modi government at the Centre. They were still reeling under impact of the noteban when the Goods and Services Tax too was forced on them. On the other hand, they have given their stamp of approval to Captain’s leadership in state,” Jakhar said.

On whether he will re-contest from Gurdaspur in 2019, he said the party high command had made the decision now and so will be the case in 2019.

Amarinder said the bypoll wins in Kerala and Punjab come close on heels of Congress winning university elections in the country. “These are all indicators that the winds of change ate blowing in favour of the Congress,” he added.

Making of a minister

The CM and Jakhar heaped copious praise on Dera Baba Nanak MLA Sukhjinder Randhawa from whose seat the party scored the highest lead. He had also claimed a wicket that of his poll rival Sucha Singh Langah who was arrested on rape charges. The feat could see three-time MLA Randhawa make it to the cabinet when it sees an expansion.

Low voter turnout

While the SAD-BJP and AAP blamed “fear created by Congress” for the low voter turnout, Amarinder also saw the harvest season of paddy as one of the reasons.

Who is Majhe Da Jarnail?

With former Akali minister Bikram Majithia, famed as “Mahje da Jarnail” (general of Majha), failing to dent the Congress lead in Dera Baba Nanak, reporters wanted to know who is new holder of the title. “Even I am,” came the CM’s reply.

‘Cabinet’s expansion after meeting Rahul’

The CM again evaded the issue of cabinet expansion saying he would take a call on it after meeting party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. “We had decided to do it after the bypoll and we will go ahead with it,” he said.

‘Rana not guilty’

On direct link of minister Rana Gurjit Singh’s firms in funding the sand mines auctioned to his aides, the CM pronounced the minister “not gulity”. “If I take money from Sunil (Jakhar) and invest in a company, what is wrong in it?” he questioned.

First Published: Oct 15, 2017 22:20 IST