Chandigarh, October 15
Lambasting the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for misleading people with false allegations against his government, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday made it clear that no cases were being registered against farmers reported to be resorting to stubble burning.The Chief Minister, while vowing to implement the government’s farm loan waiver scheme with or without the central government’s support, lashed out at AAP for issuing baseless statements on the issue of stubble burning and said the party, which had come down to 2% of the votes in the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha bypoll, would soon be reduced to 0%. He pointed out that AAP’s Sucha Singh Chhotepur had in 2014 LS election polled 173376 votes but the same party had now been reduced to just 23579 votes, with its candidate even losing his security deposit.Addressing a press conference, the Chief Minister congratulated the Congress nominee from Gurdaspur, Sunil Jakhar, along with party workers and people, for the record victory, which marked a total collapse of AAP. Jakhar, on his part, compared the poll result to the Chikmaglur victory of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, which marked the revival of the Congress party in the late 1970s.Attributing the relatively low voter turnout to the ongoing paddy season, currently in full swing, Captain Amarinder said the Gurdaspur by-election result underlined the downfall of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and further strengthened the Congress party’s reverse trend which began with the latter’s sweep in various university students’ union elections. Citing the Congress victory in Maharashtra civic polls as well in Kerala by-poll, the Chief Minister expressed the hope that the Congress would do well in the forthcoming Himachal Pradesh assembly polls.While the Gurdaspur result reflected the impact of GST and demonetization, it also showed that the people were fed of the Akalis, whose leaders including Sukhbir Badal and Bikram Singh Majithia, had been campaigning in the LS constituency in support of the BJP candidate, said Captain Amarinder. The Chief Minister denied the opposition charges of use of government machinery in support of Jakhar and said unity in the Congress had ensured that every member of the party came out to campaign.Replying to a question on action against Akali leaders in drugs cases, the Chief Minister said the anti-drugs STF set up by his government was conducting its investigations and suitable action would be taken against all guilty once the probe was completed. On the issue of farm loan waiver, Captain Amarinder said the state government had sought the Centre’s permission to enhance cash credit limit but if the same does not come through it would make its own arrangements for implementing loan waiver. Reiterating his firm commitment to waiving off the farm loans, as already announced by his government and approved by the cabinet, the Chief Minister said all steps were being taken to ensure the welfare of the farming community.
While agreeing that the government was committed to implementing the NGT ban on stubble burning, the Chief Minister said they could not afford to compensate the farmers for paddy residue management. He ruled out penalization of the farmers, who were already living under extreme economic distress, leading to suicides. The central government needs to step in and agree to the state’s demand for Rs 100 per quintal to be incorporated in paddy MSP as compensation for stubble management, he added.Asked about the findings of the committee set up to probe corruption charges against cabinet minister Rana Gurjit, Captain Amarinder said the same would be shared with the media once the report is examined by the concerned departments and officials. To a question on cabinet expansion, the Chief Minister said he would undertake the same in due course, after discussions with AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi.Thanking the people of Gurdaspur, the victorious Congress nominee Sunil Jakhar said his win reaffirmed people’s faith in Captain Amarinder and his policies. The result should silence the opposition who had been claiming that no development work was being done in Punjab, said Jakhar, adding that the Akali leadership was defeated due to their cheap and anti-people mindset and the poll result would mark the beginning of the end of the SAD-BJP alliance.
Jakhar promised to raise, in Parliament, the issues of GST, unemployment and special incentives/package, equivalent to the hilly states, for the border areas of Punjab, including Gurdaspur. He also promised to resolve local issues in the nine assembly segments of the region with the help of the state government. Skill development would be taken up on priority to address the problem of unemployment, he added.Asked if he would contest the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Jakhar said it would depend on the party high command and, as a loyal soldier, he would take on any responsibility entrusted to him.
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