CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday said he would soon take up with the Congress high command the issue of Navjot Singh Sidhu’s damaging remarks ahead of polling in Punjab, which he said might have affected the party’s performance in Bathinda.
He also said the performance of the ministers would be reviewed in the backdrop of the Lok Sabha results in the state. “We will review the performance of the ministers, it was not a veiled threat made by the party before the elections,” he said this afternoon.
Though he refused to comment directly on the possible impact of Sidhu’s comments on the Congress performance in Punjab, Amarinder said as a minister, Sidhu’s own performance needed to be reviewed. Asserting that Sidhu had not been able to handle his department, the Chief Minister made it clear that he intended to take up the issue with the high command once things have settled down in the party, post the election results.
The Congress in Punjab performed poorly in urban areas, and Sidhu was the minister for urban development, Amarinder pointed out, adding that while everyone had the right to promote themselves in a democracy, it was wrong on his part to made the controversial comments once the battle had started.
Referring to Sidhu’s remarks on the investigation into the sacrilege cases, Amarinder said the minister evidently did not understand that the SIT was set up by the Vidhan Sabha and it was thus the body which had to complete the probe.
He also reiterated that Sidhu’s `yari and jhappi’ (friendship and hugs) with the Pakistani Army Chief would not be tolerated, especially by Army personnel, who were being killed by ISI-backed terrorists while he was going hugging their leaders.
Amarinder said the Punjab Congress would introspect on why three areas in Bathinda proved to be weak for the party and also why Sunil Jakhar lost to Sunny Deol in Gurdaspur despite his hard work. “I do not understand the people’s preference for a Bollywood star over an experienced leader,” he said, hoping the Indian democracy would evolve more in the coming years.
On Hoshiarpur, the Chief Minister blamed the Congress defeat to votes being shifted to BSP, which proved a deciding factor in this constituency and affected the margins in some others.
Overall, the people of Punjab had responded to the government’s development and welfare programs, including farm debt waiver and employment generation, said Amarinder. Sacrilege certainly worked against Badal, he said to a question, adding that Hindutva did not impact the polls in Punjab.
On AAP’s Bhagwant Mann’s victory, the Chief Minister attributed it to his own standing and not to his party, which was politically completely eliminated.
Amarinder trashed a suggestion that the Congress party’s nation-wide performance had raised questions on Rahul’s leadership, saying he had worked closely with Rahul, whom he found to be a fine leader. Winning and losing was part of the game, and if BJP could rise from 2 seats when Congress was over 300 seats in Lok Sabha, it can, and will rise, again, he asserted. He also rejected charges of dynastic politics by the Congress, saying Rahul was never thrust on the people but was duly elected.
Amarinder said while Modi had won the elections, he felt the prime minister should not do anything to destroy India’s secular credentials.