Sunam, May 9: Calling for a united vote to wipe out the communal Akalis, who had shamelessly resorted to sacrilege to polarize communities ahead of the Assembly polls, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday said this land of martyrs was an inspiration for those who had sacrificed themselves for an India that belonged to all religions and communities.
Addressing an election rally here in support of Congress candidate from Sangrur, Kewal Singh Dhillon, Captain Amarinder made an emotional appeal to the people not to let Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) destroy India’s biggest strength – its unity. Vowing not to spare the Badals or anyone involved in trying to divide the people of Punjab through desecration of the holy scriptures of various religions, the Chief Minister said they would have to pay for their sins, including the firing on peaceful and unarmed people protesting against sacrilege cases.
Paying his tributes to Shaheed Udham Singh, whose picture he was presented on the dais, the Chief Minister said the freedom fighter’s selfless sacrifice remains an inspiration for Indians even today. He recalled the incident of Udham Singh keeping a bottle of the blood-soaked Jallianwala Bagh soil next to his pillow, for years, out of sheer grief at the tragic killings of innocent Indians.
Those people were of a different mettle, he said, exhorting people to ensure that the India of their dreams is not destroyed by communal forces. The nation was passing through difficult times and these Lok Sabha elections would decide its future by choosing between those engaged in communalizing politics and those desirous of building the secular India of the dreams of the freedom fighters, said the Chief Minister.
Modi and his men were breaking the strength of the nation and usurping the achievements of the armed forces as their own, for furthering their political interests, he said, quipping that as an Army officer he had served Indian forces and not Modi’s forces. Attacking the Akali candidate from Sangrur, Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Captain Amarinder squarely blamed the former Punjab finance minister for the fiscal crisis faced by the state and the additional debt burden of Rs 31000 crore he had put on the coming generations in the state.
The Akalis ruined the state, lamented the Chief Minister, declaring that his government would complete the farm debt waiver process for the 10.25 lakh small and marginal farmers, as promised. “If we can do it despite the fiscal crisis in Punjab, why could Prakash Singh Badal not do it,” he asked, pointing that while all states were trying to help their farmers the relief provided by his government was the maximum.
However, he reiterated that debt relief was only a temporary measure and in toto implementation of the MS Swaminathan Commission report was the only solution to the woes of the farmers across the country. Nostalgically recalling his first campaign in Sunam, which was then part of Patiala constituency, 42 years ago, the Chief Minister said he was elated to see the same love showered on him even today, and promised to fulfill all the expectations of the people.
His government, said Captain Amrinder, was doing its best to ease the unemployment problem by facilitating jobs in government, private and self-employment. In the government sector, there are still 1.2 lakh vacancies, which were left unfilled by the Akalis as they diverted and squandered resources, said the chief minister adding that these jobs would be given to the youth of Punjab in phases in the coming year.
Asserting that he had broken the backbone of the drugs mafia, as he had vowed to do, the Chief Minister said the SIT and Punjab Police were in pursuit of the big fish and were working closely with other north Indian states to track and nab them. The promise of smart phones to aid youth in education was also on way to being fulfilled, Captain Amarinder said, adding that the first batch of such phones would be distributed soon after these elections.
The efforts of his government to improve education standards in the state were showing results, he said, congratulating the Class X students who had passed the PSEB exams and also lauding the efforts of the Education Department and government school teachers for the recor 88.21% pass percentage – an increase of 30% over the previous year. Others who spoke at the rally included PPCC’s Election Campaign Chairman, Lal Singh, Cabinet Minister, Vijay Inder Singla, and former CM, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.