Punjab Congress president Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday sought woo the youth into voting for the Congress in the upcoming Assembly elections by paying the “experience” card.
“If you think I am bad, do not vote for me. If you think [Chief Minister Parkash Singh] Badal is bad, do not vote for him either. If [Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind] Kejriwal is good then vote for him. Many of you would be thinking of trying an alternative this time. But if Punjab goes downhill, you would suffer. I will not be there, I may not be there. It is your future that is associated with the state,” was an exasperated Amarinder’s words of caution for the youth, gathered here at his Coffee With Captain program.
Amarinder fielded questions, including a few uncomfortable ones, with students bracketing him with Badals asking him why should they vote for him.
Rahul Saini, from Patiala, called him a “chronic absentee” from the Lok Sabha, Assembly and his constituency, thereby “undermining the position given to him, create indiscipline by defying the high command, by having his way to get his predecessor, Partap Singh Bajwa, removed as PPCC president, by calling AICC Vice President, Rahul Gandhi a child”.
He said, “I am the one who took up the cudgels when 35,000 innocent people were killed (when Punjab was under the cloud of terrorism) when you were young boys or may be even not born. I was also ambushed. I manage to escape. I’m committed to the democratic process. When I was given the role of deputy leader (of Lok Sabha) I had made it clear I was interested in Punjab. I had resigned from the Parliament and the Congress to protest against Operation Blue Star. This will be my fifth election. I have done everything for Punjab even if it is SYL or any other issue. When I was asked to contest Amritsar, I made it very clear I was not interested. I was asked by Congress president to contest for her sake. That time each seat was important to form the government. “
On another occasion, the Captain said sharply, “I have an office open 24/7 in Amritsar. I am not an MLA, who is required to be in the constituency all the time. I go to the Parliament on three occasions: when an issue related to Punjab, defence personnel has to come up. I have an adjournment motion pending in Lok Sabha. But we are not given the time. There is not a single day when there is time for debate.”
Responding to a question that he and Badals come from affluent families, Amarinder said, “By all means give a chance to anyone you deem fit. But consider that Punjab is under a debt of over Rs 1 lakh crore. We have a feudal system of functioning. We are in utter mess socially, economically, in industry, in agriculture. We should consider bring Punjab back on rails.”
Responding to another question, Amarinder said, “I am not praising the Congress party or myself. You have to think, which is the party that can bring back Punjab to its old days. I do not want to say anything. Take the decision yourself. I hope God gives us a chance. We will address all the problems,” he said.
Later, talking to the media, Amarinder called the C-voter survey “rubbish” and said he reckoned another one was in the pipeline. “These do not mean anything. “ he said.
Amarinder also listed his achievements to provide an alternative to farmers during his rule, nailing corruption by putting behind bars the Badals and former PPSC chief Ravi Sidhu, while announcing that he would appoint a strong Lokpal to rout corruption if voted to power.
“He would not be like the sitting Lokpal, who is the brother of an Akali Minister, Janmeja Singh Sekhon. How could a minister’s brother be an effective Lokpal?” he asked amidst applause from the students.