Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday shamed Narendra Modi over the Time cover describing the Prime Minister as ‘Divider in Chief’ for his brazen attempts to divide India, on the basis of caste and religion, to further his political ambitions.Addressing a rally here in support of Congress party’s Gurdaspur candidate Sunil Jakhar, the Chief Minister contrasted Modi’s poor international reputation, as endorsed by the Time magazine, with the respect that leaders like Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and even Atal Behari Vajpayee had earned for the nation at global forums such as the United Nations. The Time cover showed what the international community of thought of Modi, who had lowered India’s prestige in the global arena, he added.Modi’s shameful attempts to destroy the secular fabric of the country were a threat to its very existence, said Captain Amarinder, exhorting the people to vote for the future and unity of India, whose diversity and secularism were its core strengths. India needs a government that can keep it united, not leaders like Modi who are out to destroy the nation’s unity, he added.Modi, said the Chief Minister, had hit an all-time low with his speeches, which was a first for the country. The fight today is for saving the country, he asserted.Apologising for the delay in reaching Bhoa, which was the result of being denied permission to land in Pathankot on the petty instructions of the Modi government, the Chief Minister said these were the cheap tactics that the prime minister was resorting to in sheer panic, in the face of BJP’s imminent defeat in these LS polls.Captain Amarinder again lambasted Modi for trying to take credit for Balakot, which was a victory not of the prime minister but the armed forces. The nation salutes the forces, who had been making unparalleled sacrifices over the years to defend the people of India and its borders, he added.
By giving cross-border raids the new jargon of surgical strikes, Modi was misleading the people into believing that he had done something new or spectacular, when the fact was that there had been bigger such events in the past, including the 1971 war that divided Pakistan under Indira Gandhi, he added.The people of Punjab had made many sacrifices, with a large number of them part of the armed forces, said the Chief Minister, adding that in case of an attack every Punjabi would stand up to fight for the country, though they all wanted peace. Citing unemployment as the biggest problem in the state, particularly in the border districts including Pathankot, the Chief Minister pointed out that he had been advocating development of industry along the border belt to generate jobs for the people of the region. His government, he said, was working hard to create employment opportunities and had already facilitated 8.25 lakh jobs in just 2 years, while the erstwhile SAD-BJP government had failed to generate even 4 lakh jobs in 10 years.Referring to the drugs problem, Captain Amarinder said the ISI was pushing drugs into India and Punjab in order to destroy the youth here and strengthen its own hands. He once again urged caution viz a viz Kartarpur Corridor, while reiterating that the opening of the Corridor would fulfill a long-cherished desire of devotees aspiring to visit the historic Gurdwara, now in Pakistan.
Assuring early resolution of the problems of sugarcane mills in Gurdaspur constituency, the Chief Minister announced his government’s decision to increase the Gurdaspur cooperative sugar mill capacity from 2000 to 10000 TCD, while pointing out that Rs 25 crore had been released towards clearing sugarcane dues for farmers in the region.He noted that a medical college had already been announced for Gurdaspur and Pathankot, and promised to personally take up with the Centre the long-pending demand of the local residents for Dogri certificates.Dismissing any threat to Sunil Jakhar from BJP candidate Sunny Deol, Captain Amarinder said the opponent had no stakes in Punjab and would run away immediately after elections. Sunny Deol, he said, was fighting the election under pressure from BJP as he owed several crores of rupees to the banks. He had no knowledge of politics and was not even aware of Balakot air strikes, quipped the Chief Minister.Earlier, Jakhar also took a dig at Sunny Deol, saying while he may be adept at singing and dancing around and pulling pumps out of the soil, he did not know anything about Gurdaspur or the problems of its people. Jakhar said just as he could not sing and dance, Sunny had no idea about politics or being an effective representative of the people. “I may not be able to entertain you but I will solve your problems by helping reopen sugar mills and setting up medical colleges,” said Jakhar, urging the people to vote for the future of the country.“You are responsible for yours and your children’s future. Do you want your children to get jobs or sell pakodas?” he asked the people.Describing Modi as a shameless liar who was like the MD of a fly-by-night fake chit fund company, Jakhar said these elections were a fight between truth and lies, and the people had to decide what they wanted.