Reiterating his commitment to farm loan waiver, Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday welcomed reports that PM Modi had instructed the Niti Aayog to make an assessment and formulate a plan for debt waiver.
While the Punjab government had already initiated the debt waiver process in the state, it was heartening to see the central government also moving towards the waiver of the debts of the beleaguered farmers around the country, said Captain Amarinder.
The chief minister, who had raised the farm debt waiver issue with the prime minister on Wednesday, said he had received an extremely warm response from both, Modi and union finance minister Arun Jaitley, whom he met in New Delhi.
In a wide-ranging interview with a television channel, Amarinder spoke on a variety of issues, touching upon subjects as diverse as the political fortunes of the Congress to cabinet formation and expansion in Punjab, as well as the challenges before his government. Captain Amarinder also fielded questions related to Navjot Singh Sidhu’s TV shows, his own decision to retire after his current stint as chief minister, AAP’s poor performance in Punjab, and more.
Ruling out any vendetta politics against the Akalis, Captain said his priority was development of Punjab rather than indulging in a vicious cycle of vendetta, and he wanted an end to the era of confrontation. Unlike the erstwhile SAD-BJP government, which had stopped all projects initiated during the earlier Congress rule, his government would continue to support all ongoing projects in the welfare of the people, he added.
To a question, the chief minister said though Congress vice president had been somewhat skeptical about the party’s chances of victory in Punjab, he was eventually extremely happy with the result of the state assembly polls. Captain Amarinder explained that it was paucity of time which led to Rahul Gandhi not being able to hold too many rallies in Punjab.
Amarinder said he had received full support from the party high command in the matter of allocation of tickets. He reiterated the need to develop regional leaders to counter the growing influence of regional parties to ensure the survival of national parties.
In response to a question, he said the absence of a chief ministerial face cost AAP heavily in Punjab, with people suspecting that Arvind Kejriwal himself wanted the top post. Despite the hype on social media, AAP failed to build a presence on the ground, which led to its defeat in the polls, he added.
While he did not agree that there could be problems with the EVMs used in the polls, Amarinder said there was need to analyse why some of the most advanced countries were not using such machines in the conduct of their elections.
Punjab CM termed the poll result as a mandate against the Akalis and an endorsement of the hard work of the Congress workers, backed by the central leadership. It was a collective victory, which could not be attributed to any single person, he said, adding that the people had voted for stability and experience.
Listing farm debt (to the tune of Rs. 1.7 lakh crores), revenue deficit, industrial crisis, crop diversification, the mafias and unemployment as other major challenges before his government, Amarinder said his government had initiated steps to tackle these problems. He promised an end to transport, cable & TV and other mafias that had been promoted by the Badal government. Giving jobs and free smartphones were other electoral promises his government would take up on priority, he added, pointing out that his government had already initiated the process of fulfilling more than 120 of the poll promises of his party.