CHANDIGARH: Despite his Congress party sweeping the recent civic body elections where electronic voting machines (EVM) were used for the first time in the state, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has advocated reverting to ballot papers. He thinks EVMs can be manipulated. Talking on the occasion of completing four years at the helm in Punjab, Amarinder also claimed that his government has fulfilled 85 per cent promises made in the manifesto of 2017. He said this is a record, bettering the mark of 81 per cent set by Chandrababu Naidu in Andhra Pradesh.
“I support reverting to the paper ballot system. In this electronic age, why are advanced countries like Japan, Sweden, UK, Norway not using EVMs? They know this can be manipulated. Why are we using them?” he asked. Amarinder opposed the policy of excessive regionalisation followed in certain states. “I believe India is one country. Too much regionalisation is not good,” he said, responding to a question on job reservation for local youth in neighbouring Haryana. “If we start regionalising, we will suffer,” he warned.
Making it clear that his government was opposed to the Centre’s farm laws, Amarinder urged the government to bring in new laws after discussions with farmers. However, Amarinder added that he could not see a middle path to break the stalemate. “What’s the point in making it a prestige issue? How many more farmers do you want to kill? They are poor farmers sitting there, with women and elderly,” he said, pointing out that Punjab has lost 112 farmers since the agitation began.
Asked about Navjot Singh Sidhu’s reinclusion in the state cabinet, the chief minister said: “Everyone wants him to be part of our team.” He sounded hopeful that Sidhu would take a positive decision soon.
Amarinder said he would also be happy to have Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Dhullo as part of the team. “In a difficult hour, you have to set aside your own ambitions and stand with the party,” he said.
Taking serious note of the increase in drone movement from across the border, Amarinder said: “As long as I am here, no Khalistani or Pakistani or any other terrorist activity will be allowed to disturb the peace of the state.”