Focus in bypoll is on Cong’s failures in six months: Sukhbir

“The Congress government has been exposed as its tenure so far has been an absolute failure.”

punjab Updated: Sep 15, 2017 19:51 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Amritsar,Gurdaspur bypoll,Sukhbir Badal
Shiromani Akali Dal president and Punjab former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal addressing a press conference in Amritsar on Friday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)

In its bid to retain the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha seat in the October 11 bypoll necessitated by the death of incumbent Vinod Khanna, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) will get full backing of partner Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said the latter’s president Sukhbir Singh Badal here on Friday. The pitch of the alliance will be to underline the Congress government’s failure to deliver on poll promises in its six months in power in the state so far, he said.

Senior leaders of both parties will meet in Chandigarh on September 18 to plan for the bypoll.

Sukhbir, addressing a press conference, said, “The Congress government has been exposed as its tenure so far has been an absolute failure. In the last six months, there has been complete collapse in the state. The chief minister is not interested in development. People are not getting salaries and pensions. None of the promises was fulfilled, including loan waiver for farmers, which had actually fetched victory for the Congress. The government has cheated innocent voters.”

He said people should now vote after comparing the performance of the SAD-BJP regime and the present government. “They were swayed once, but it was always our alliance which worked for development.”.

The former deputy CM ruled out any challenge from the Aam Aadmi Party in the bypoll. “It does not stand a chance.”

He also accused the government of deliberately delaying the municipal elections as the “Congress fears defeat”.

Sidhu hits back

Hitting back at Sukhbir, local MLA and local bodies minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said he should practice what he is preaching. “Sukhbir Badal did nothing for Amritsar,” Sidhu said while talking to HT. “The SAD-BJP government scuttled development projects in 10 years. He didn’t complete construction of streets, and rather took money allocated to Amritsar to other parts of Punjab.”

He added, “The Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) was a failure. We are trying to mend the destruction he did in the state during his 10-year tenure. Let our government complete a year at least!”

Sidhu claimed that for the first year of Congress tenure, Rs 125 crores has already been allocated for ongoing projects in Amritsar. “I have already distributed over 40 new fire-tenders in the state and many more will come. The development will be visible soon in Punjab.”

SAD never sought dera support, claims Sukhbir

Launching an attack on Giani Gurmukh Singh, former jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Sukhbir refuted his claims that the SAD sought support from Sirsa-based Dera Sacha Sauda, whose chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was awarded 20 years’ jail sentence in a rape case last month.

He said seeking support was the “personal choice” of candidates.

Meanwhile, taking a dig at his cousin and state finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal, Sukhbir said he doesn’t deserve to be the finance minister. “Manpreet has failed in prudently allocating finances. He should at least waive the state’s 9% goods and services tax (GST) on langar, and only he can advocate the case of exempting langar from GST.”

First Published: Sep 15, 2017 19:50 IST