Pitching for a BJP-mukt Bharat to protect the country’s unity and future, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday expressed the confidence that UPA-3 would take over the nation’s reins to prevent its secular fabric from being destroy and to bring it back on the path of development.The Chief Minister was addressing the Patiala District Bar Association in the Patiala judicial complex, followed by a public rally in Dera Bassi, while interacting informally with mediapersons in various places.The Bar Association extended its full support of the Congress party’s Patiala candidate, Preneet Kaur, while thanking the Chief Minister for the development of the judicial complex with its new chambers and providing facilities to the legal fraternity. Association president Jatinderpal Singh Ghuman, along with VP Shivam Sharma, said Captain Amarinder and Preneet were like family, who had done a lot for the Bar as well as other people of Patiala, which had been completely ignored under the previous regime.Addressing the Bar, and later at the public rally, Captain Amarinder accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of tinkering with India’s secularism, which was its strength and was now under threat from the BJP. The country today was passing through grave times and needed change in the interest of its future, and that of its people, who need development, not divisiveness, he added.Captain Amarinder also lashed out at the Akalis for playing politics of religion to polarize the people for their vested political interests, and blamed them for ruining Punjab in the 10 years of their rule, just as the BJP had ruined the country in the last five years. The spate of sacrilege cases clearly showed the extent of politicization of religion under the SAD-BJP government, he added, lashing out at the Akalis for attempting to divide communities with Bargari and other sacrilege incidents.
Later, talking informally with journalists, he said people do not favour Modi’s thinking of breaking the country by communalizing it, he said, adding that it was time for a BJP-free India. BJP had reached the peak of its political success and was now headed for a downfall, he added. Ups and downs were part of a democratic polity, and the Congress had been down for some time but was now on a rise, said the Chief Minister, asserting that UPA-3 will emerge in response to the mood of the country for change.Asked about the contest in Gurdaspur, Captain Amarinder said it was not Sunil Jakhar but Sunny Deol who was on a sticky wicket there. The BJP could not find a suitable local candidate, hence decided to field Sunny out of sheer desperation, he added.To another question, he said Chandigarh was and would remain Punjab’s capital and Haryana could build its own separate capital city with its own money.The Chief Minister strongly condemned the politicization of the defence forces, which had always been non-partisan and secular in character. Earlier, in Dera Bassi, the Chief Minister said no prime minister had ever taken credit for fighting the enemy on the borders, unlike Modi, who only spoke of ‘I, I and I’. Punjab was proud of the achievements of the Army and Air Force but did not want war as, being a border state, it would be worst sufferer in case of outbreak of hostilities, he added.
At both, the Patiala Bar and Dera Bassi, the Chief Minister said he was fully cognizant of the problems of the people’s problems but was constrained from announcing any relief measure in view of the election code of conduct. He assured the Bar, as well as the people of Dera Bassi, that all their problems would be looked into.Citing the mismanagement of the previous regime in Punjab, the Chief Minister said his government was facing a fiscal crisis, even as the people of the state were suffering. Emphasising on industrialization as the only solution to unemployment and economic problems, the Chief Minister said his government would make Patiala an industrial hub and would generate 1 lakh jobs for the youth of Patiala.The Chief Minister promised development to ensure that the state’s youth do not leave for better opportunities abroad.Expressing concern over the farmer suicides, which his government was addressing through its debt waiver scheme, Captain Amarinder the Congress manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections promised full implementation of the Swaminathan Committee report, which was the only long-term solution to the problem. The Chief Minister flayed the Modi government for destroying the nation’s economy with demonetization and GST, which was still causing immense problems to Punjab, forcing his government to delay salaries at times.Describing these polls as decisive for the country’s future, Preneet also underlined the secular strength of India and said the people did not want a government that divides them. Modi was asking for votes not on the basis of his work but in the name of the martyred soldiers, she pointed out, urging the people to vote from the heart, in their own interest and that of the country.She assured the people of Dera Bassi that all pending development works in the region would be completed in the next three years.Preneet spoke about the various promises of the Congress led by Rahul Gandhi and assured the people that each one of them would be fulfilled.