Punjab Lok Congress (PLC) chief Capt Amarinder Singh on Tuesday expressed anger over Navjot Singh Sidhu hugging the Pakistan army chief who was ordering his soldiers every day to kill Indians.
He said the state’s governance could not be handed over to people who were willing to compromise national security to further their personal and political ambitions.
“Who do you hate more? The soldiers who fire or the one who gives the order?” the former chief minister asked the people of Patiala at a public meeting at Ramalila Maidan, adding that Sidhu hugging General Bajwa and then his reinduction into the state cabinet being recommended by the prime minister of Pakistan clearly showed he could not be relied upon to keep Punjab and India safe from the enemy across the border.
“We want peace with Pakistan but will not bow to them. We are prepared to fight, our army is ready to take them head on,” Capt Amarinder asserted.
Citing the need for the highest levels of security in the border state of Punjab, the former chief minister said the state’s and country’s safety was of paramount importance, which only the PLC alliance, with the support of the BJP-led government at the Centre, could ensure.
While there was no conflict between the people of the two countries, the hostile regime in Pakistan posed a serious danger which could not be undermined, he said.
He pointed out that since March 2017, as many as 83 Punjabi soldiers had been killed by Pakistan on border, and his government had given compensation of Rs 50 lakh and a job to the kin of the deceased soldiers.
Announcing that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah will be coming to Punjab soon to campaign for the PLC-BJP-SAD Sanyukt coalition, Capt Amarinder said the alliance had been crafted in the interest of Punjab and the country.
The state, with its economy in total shambles, was at a crossroads and needed the Centre’s support to go ahead, he stressed, adding that Punjab was reeling under a debt of Rs 70,000 crore, with current Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi adding Rs 33,000 crore in just 111 days.
For Punjab’s survival, it is necessary that the state and the Centre work together, said Capt Amarinder, adding that he personally has had cordial relations with Modi since the latter was the chief minister of Gujarat and the RSS in-charge for Punjab.
The PLC chief unveiled his ambitious plans for the development and security of the state, which the Congress had scuttled by the sudden and uncalled for change at the helm of the government less than six months before the Assembly polls.
He pointed out that even the various development projects he had launched in the Patiala region had been stalled by the Channi government.
Listing his priorities for the state, the PLC leader said while he had ensured 22 lakh new jobs and investment worth Rs 1 lakh crore on the ground during his tenure, much more was needed to be done to ensure the state’s progress.
“I want to ensure that Punjab’s children do not go abroad for higher education and jobs,” he added.
The former chief minister further identified improving the state’s water situation and agriculture as key priorities for his party.
He pointed out that he had conceived surface river water supply for five major cities, including Patiala, and had given jobs and Rs 5 lakh compensation to the families of each of the 460 farmers who died in the recent agitation.
Sanjeev Sharma Bittu, the PLC candidate from Patiala Rural, stressed that a double engine regime will transform both Patiala and Punjab.
For 10 years under the Akali regime, Patiala had received step-motherly treatment, he recalled, adding that the development work done here under the Capt Amarinder government was just the beginning of what the region could achieve.
Amarinder was joined by local BJP leaders who extended their full support to ensure his party’s victory from both Patiala Urban and Rural.
Punjab will go to the polls in a single phase for the 117-member Assembly on February 20.