CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Capt. Amarinder Singh on Sunday backed party chief Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the joint Opposition front in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but remained mum on an alliance with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab.
Reiterating his earlier stand, Amarinder said that Rahul was fully competent to lead the country and will surely prove to be a successful prime minister. He said the Congress should explore all alliance possibilities for next year’s Parliamentary elections and Rahul should lead the joint front of the opposition parties to boot the divisive BJP-led NDA out of power.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) session in Delhi, Amarinder said alliances for the Lok Sabha polls would be worked out by the party at the national level, with the state units following suit.
“The alignments will have to happen at the national level. Whatever they decide will apply to the states,” he said, adding that “the alliances will be dependent on the central leadership, and wherever it takes us, we will go.”
Asked if this meant he was open to an alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which the Congress had routed in Punjab during 2016 state assembly elections, Amarinder told journalists to refrain from trying to put words in his mouth.
Congress in charge of Punjab Asha Kumari and state party chief Sunil Jakhar had said earlier there was no question of allying with AAP in Punjab.
Amarinder said he supported former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, who told the CWC that the Congress would have to enter broad-based alliances to win the 2019 elections.
“I endorse what Chidambaram has said…I think he said a very good thing – that we should bring as many people in the Opposition together as possible,” he added.
All the like-minded parties who wanted to restore India’s glorious secular and harmonious character should get together in their collective interest, and more importantly in the interest of the country, said Amarinder.
To a question on the people’s mood in Punjab ahead of the parliamentary elections, he said it was entirely in favour of the Congress. Pointing out that the Congress had won Gurdaspur and Shahkot with record margins in recent months, he expressed the confidence that the party would win hands down in the Parliamentary elections next year.
“I have promised them (the high command) Punjab, and will give it to them,” he said, adding that he had also told them that “if you want to use us elsewhere too, we are there.” Replying to another question, he said the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was their main opponent in the state.
Amarinder in response to a question said there was no harm in bringing the new Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University in Chandigarh from the Benaras Hindu University.
Top academicians can be from any state and there is nothing wrong in appointing them to universities in the other states, he added, when asked about the appointment of Prof Raj Kumar, Dean and Head of Institute of Management Studies, BHU, as Panjab University V-C.