Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday ruled out the need for an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the state but said the decision on a coalition with the party would be taken by the Congress high command.He was responding to questions from media persons during an informal chat after meeting Congress president Rahul Gandhi to discuss a host of state government and party related issues, particularly in view of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. The Chief Minister also congratulated Rahul on the Congress party’s sweeping victory in three states in the recent Assembly polls.AAP was totally non-existent in Punjab, and there was absolutely no need for the Congress in the state to go in for alliance with the Arvind Kejriwal’s party, said Captain Amarinder Singh, adding that the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) had conveyed these views to the high command earlier though the matter was not discussed at his meeting today with Rahul.AAP had become defunct, with no identity now in Punjab, as against the situation prevailing in the last Lok Sabha elections, he asserted. However, any decision on a coalition with AAP or any other party would be taken by the Congress high command, keeping in mind the national perspective and electoral compulsions, and would be followed by PPCC, said the Chief Minister.Exuding confidence that the Congress would win all the 13 LS seats in Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh said the best and most winning candidates would be chosen by the party. However, there had been no discussion yet on the selection of the candidates, he said.Replying to a question on a possible reshuffle in his cabinet, the Chief Minister said the issue of any change in portfolios of the ministers was not discussed during the meeting with Rahul.
On the issue of the Kartarpur Corridor, Captain Amarinder Singh said while Pakistan had already started work on the construction of the road on their side, development work had yet to start in the Indian Punjab, as the state government had not received any funds so far from the Centre for acquiring land for building the infrastructure.The Chief Minister clarified, in response to another question, that he had given permission to his cabinet colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu to visit Pakistan for their ground-breaking ceremony for the Kartarpur Corridor. No minister can leave without the chief minister’s approval, said Captain Amarinder Singh, adding that Sidhu wanted to go there in his personal capacity and hence, he had given permission to the minister. However, he reiterated that he had advised him not to go, as he himself had turned down the invite in view of the unprovoked killings of Indian soldiers by Pakistan in Kashmir and ISI’s persistent attempts to create trouble in Punjab.The Chief Minister trashed as completely incorrect the allegations levelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the loan waiver scheme for farmers in Punjab. His government had already waived off crop loans worth Rs 3,417 crores of 4,14,275 farmers in just one year. His government was committed to covering all the 10.25 lakh small and marginal farmers targeted in the farm loan waiver scheme announced by it, with others also to be covered in subsequent phases, as the fiscal situation of the state improves further, he added. He said loans of the remaining about 3 lakh of the 10.25 lakh farmers would be waived off shortly.Modi believed in misleading and deceiving people with his trumped up allegations and fabrications, but the voters of the country would not be taken in again by his ‘jumlebaazi’, declared the Chief Minister.