· WOULD BACK RAHUL FOR CONGRESS’S PM CANDIDATURE IN 2019
New Delhi, December 4
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has rejected charges of `parivarvad’ behind Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as AICC president, saying the massive response he has been evoking in recent months on various fora, including the ongoing election campaign in Gujarat, indicates his huge popular support base.
In an informal chat with the media after nominating Rahul for the top Congress post, Captain Amarinder said the Congress vice president had the support of the people, with 100% of the party workers favouring his elevation. Terming the AICC election as the party’s internal business, the Chief Minister said even other like-minded parties had no problems with Rahul taking over the Congress reins.
To a question about Shehzad Poonawalla’s critical remarks on the issue of the AICC presidential election, Captain Amarinder questioned his locus standii, and said that no one one in the party cares about what he says.
Calling for Rahul’s projection as the prime ministerial candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Captain Amarinder said the young Gandhi had generated massive enthusiasm in the party with his ability to connect with the youth. He is very inquisitive by nature, has an eye for detail and is modern in his outlook – qualities that would stand the party in good stead if it projects Rahul as the next prime ministerial candidate, said the Punjab chief minister.
Talking about the Gujarat assembly polls, Captain Amarinder said the Congress was on the upswing there, with Rahul’s rallies meeting with massive response, in contrast to the campaigning by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Later, in an interview with a TV channel, the Chief Minister, while referring to the ensuing MC polls in Punjab, said all elections were a challenge, and in this case, the aspirations of the people were extremely high. He pointed out that his government was slowly implementing the various promises made to the people during the assembly elections, with farm debt waiver also set to commence this month.
On the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), he said it continued to be on a downslide, while the Akalis still remained in the bad books of the people and would lose again if elections were to be held today. The Akalis had made a mess of everything, he said, adding that his government was trying to set things right. The Chief Minister cited the examples of desecrations, which had shown a marked decline since the Congress government took over, and the drugs smugglers, whose backbone had been broken, with drugs no longer easily available in the state. Though the big drug mafia players had fled, the STF was on their trail, he added.
To a question on the drugs case against AAP leader Sukhpal Singh Khaira, the Chief Minister dismissed him as an over ambitious politician and an `erratic’ individual who was not worth commenting. He pointed out that the case against Khaira was registered in 2015, with no involvement of the Congress, and was now in court.
Captain Amarinder reiterated that the decision to hand over targeted killing cases to NIA was prompted by the fact that the central agency was better equipped to handle them, given their international ramifications.
Asked about the false cases registered during the Akali regime, the Chief Minister said action had already been initiated on the recommendations of the Justice Mehtab Singh Gill Commission. Politicians must realize they cannot use false cases to prosecute opponents, he said, adding that his government will never allow such things to happen.