Captain Firm in Congress Saddle

Amarinder Singh

Resigning from Amritsar Lok Sabha seat Amrinder Singh is in mood to tilt this assembly election on the SYL nectar as it makes AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal highly uncomfortable

By DANFES

Punjab Congress chief and chief ministerial nominee Captain Amarinder Singh is fairly upbeat these days and so are his party workers, who are virtually in a celebratory mood. The sprawling green lawn at Amarinder’s official residence in Lutyens Delhi is full of party leaders and workers, who have gathered either to congratulate their ‘Captain’ or discuss future campaign strategies. And, they have reason to be happy.

The Punjab Congress has been successful in getting two Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLAs on their side and next the big thing in waiting is the formal joining of former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu. While giving a clear indication about Sidhu following his wife and ex-BJP MLA Navjot Kaur Sidhu’s footsteps, Amarinder said, “Last week, we met and had discussions. He will formally join the party soon (possibly in a week). The decision on whether Sidhu will contest the Amritsar Lok Sabha by-poll or not has been left to him. He has to take the call.”

Sidhu’s wife has recently joined Punjab Congress party.

The Punjab Congress chief is in Delhi to publicly announce the entry of the two SAD MLAs — Rajinder Kaur Bhagike from Nihal Singh Wala and Mahesh Inder Singh from Bagha Purana, along with SAD leader Pritam S Kotbhai and social activist from Phillaur, Ajay Sharma into the Congress fold. Kotbhai had lost narrowly to the Congress candidate in the last election. Besides wooing Sidhu and SAD MLAs to its side, the Punjab Congress is also waiting with fingers crossed for a few Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders from Punjab to join its ranks.

The Congress party is in mood to tilt this assembly election on the Sutluj Yamuna Link (SYL) nectar as it makes the AAP national Convener Arvind Kejriwal highly uncomfortable. So, it looks that the grand old party is in mood to give SYL first priority over issues like narcotics, internal security and other local issues. Captain Amrinder Singh’s resignation from Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency is a glaring example of it. 

However, the party is upbeat over Sidhu’s wife joining the party as it would help Congress to polarize Jat Sikhs into its fold and make a formidable Dalit-Jat Sikh combination in coming assembly polls. Since, Captain himself is a Jat Sikh, the grand old party is giving full breathing space to cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu to decide when and where he would like to join the party. Probably, Sidhu would be given Lok Sabha ticket as a solace as the Lok Sabha seat had become a prestige issue between Badals and Sidhu. Though, Sidhu had to succumb to Badal’s politics in 2014 when they convinced Arun Jaitley to contest from Amritsar seat and help NDA create a kidn of wave that Modi was expecting by contesting from Varanasi. But, Sidhu showed his power that he holds in the constituency he represented twice by not canvassing for his ‘political mentor’ and as a result Jaitley had to taste defeat against Congress candidate Captain Amrinder Singh even during the Modi Tsunami in his first ever electoral battle.

Thoug, Jaitley was made minister even after the defeat in the Lok Sabha polls, Sidhu was left for his career in laughter shows and time to time he was given assurances that he still was an important party member. However, when he was nominated to the Upper House, it was thought that things between Sidhu and BJP have been settled down. But, being known foir batting on the front foot, Sidhu defied all speculations and made comedy of this Rajya Sabha nomination by resigning from the prestigious Upper House. 

Aiming at various segments from farmers to youth, Amarinder has been continuously on a campaign spree crisscrossing the state with innovative strategies like ‘Halke Vich Captain’, ‘Coffee with Captain’, meeting the common man at highway dhabas, public grievance hearing etc.

CAPTAIN ON OPPONENTS

“The AAP in Punjab is on a downslide. Arvind Kejriwal and his party are nowhere on the scene and although it had secured some advantage earlier, things have deteriorated now to such an extent that they will not be able to win even four seats in Punjab. The exodus of leaders and workers from SAD and AAP would further increase as the elections draw closer, especially after the imposition of the Code of Conduct in Punjab,” claimed Amarinder.

“They are disillusioned with the SAD leadership. The sitting MLAs have been deprived tickets to contest the forthcoming Punjab election and when they asked the party high command, they were threatened and terrorised,” a Punjab Congress party worker close to one of the MLAs claimed.

DEMONETIZATION, INCOME TAX

“My personal view is that the objective of demonetization that is to eliminate black money is good, but the implementation is lousy. It’s common sense that if 86 percent of the cash is taken out of currency system, there are bound to be problems. The government should have prepared itself better before making the announcement,” he said. The Income Tax Department recently filed a charge-sheet against Amarinder in connection with its probe against him and his son in a case of alleged untaxed foreign assets.

Immediately, after this Amarinder took to Twitter to accuse Finance Minister Arun Jaitley of complicity.

“There is no substance in the Income Tax Department’s complaint against me. It’s completely politically-motivated. The issue of alleged foreign assets was first raised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when I was pitched against BJP’s Arun Jaitley in Amritsar during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections,” added Amarinder.