Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday criticised his party colleague Navjot Singh Sidhu for damaging the Congress with his ill-timed comments against him and the party leadership in the state.
“If he (Sidhu) were a real Congressmen, he should have chosen a better time to air his grievances instead of just ahead of voting in Punjab,” said the CM.
“Perhaps, Sidhu is ambitious and wants to be CM,” Amarinder remarked in response to a question during in an informal chat with mediapersons before leaving for Patiala to cast his vote, along with other members of his family.
His wife and former Union Minister Preneet Kaur is contesting from the Patiala Lok Sabha seat on behalf of the Congress. Amarinder expressed confidence that the party would sweep not just this seat but all 13 constituencies in Punjab.
On the recent controversial and rebellious remarks by his cabinet colleague Sidhu, who had a few days back accused the CM of being responsible for denial of ticket to his wife, Navjot Kaur, from Chandigarh, Amarinder said he was harming the party with such irresponsible actions.
“It was not his election but that of the entire Congress,” said the CM.
“It was for the high command to decide on any action against Sidhu, but the Congress, as a party, does not tolerate indiscipline, said the CM. He personally did not have any differences against Sidhu, whom he had known since the latter was a child,” Amarinder added.
Such irritants notwithstanding, the CM exuded confidence of a Congress victory in all 13 seats, saying he was getting very positive reports from all constituencies, with Congressmen having already started celebrating with distribution of ladoos, indicating their level of confidence.
“In contrast, the entire Akali leadership, right up to Harsimrat (Badal), was down in the dumps and cried out of sheer frustration at their imminent defeat,” he added.
As for Patiala, he said, he was confident of Preneet sweeping the poll by a margin of over 1 lakh votes. UPA-3 will form the next government at the Centre, Amarinder said, adding that the Congress was doing very well across the country, he added.
To a question on the issues that he thought would be the deciding factor in Punjab in these elections, Amarinder said incidents of sacrilege were a big issue, especially in the rural areas, as it had hurt the sentiments of every Sikh.
Procurement of farm products was another major issue in the rural belt, he said, adding that national issues such as demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax were more important in urban areas.
With Punjab minister Navjot Singh Sidhu threatening to resign if the punishment was not given to those (read Badals) involved in desecration of religious scriptures, the Aam Aadmi Party had on Saturday said the Congress leader had put his stamp on mutual bonhomie between CM Amarinder and former CM Parkash Singh Badal.
On the other hand, Shiromani Akal Dal (SAD) had said the CM should dare dismiss his cabinet colleague or quit immediately.