M A I N   N E W S

Amarinder ignoring Punjab’s interests: PM
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 18
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today took potshots at the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, virtually accusing him of being immature and letting power go to his head and ignoring the interests of the state.

Speaking at the SAD-BJP rally here, the Prime Minister said Capt Amarinder Singh had failed to safeguard the interests of the state. He said the work on the Bathinda refinery had come to a stop because the Punjab Government had not submitted the deed of assurance of the project which was a mandatory requirement. He said the state should have taken up the issue with the Centre on the issue.

Mr Vajpayee said the NDA government on its part inaugurated the Rs 9,806 crore Bathinda refinery in November, 1998. He said the work on the refinery, which was to have a capacity of processing nine million metric tonnes of crude oil, had begun with the crude oil terminal starting to take shape in 185 acres of land.

The Prime Minister in his witty style disclosed how Capt Amarinder Singh had preferred to hold a “dharna” outside his residence rather than approaching him to discuss issues which could improve the living conditions of the people of his state. “When I invited them in, they said we have not come to talk to you but to hold a protest. None of our chief ministers has ever resorted to a dharna outside the residence of the Prime Minister”, Mr Vajpayee said adding that this kind of tactic stemmed from the necessity of creating a spectacle in the interest of the party rather than thinking about the interests of the people.

Talking about the Punjab Chief Minister’s recent visit to Punjab province of Pakistan, the Prime Minister said Capt Amarinder Singh got upset and issued statements when his request for the grant of permission to visit Pakistan was slightly delayed. “He must understand that there are certain rules which have to be followed in case one is to go abroad”, adding the Central Government had to look into various issues, including security. Later the PMO received a note of thanks from Capt Amarinder Singh, he said.

Mr Vajpayee also castigated the Chief Minister for the “maltreatment” meted out to SAD President Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir Badal during the period they were in jail in the city. “This behaviour of the Punjab Government crossed all norms of decency”, he added. He went on to say “those in government can come down and those who are down today can come up again. This game will go on but one should not lose control of one’s mind in the process”, he added.

Earlier SAD President Parkash Singh Badal and senior leader Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who is the party candidate from Patiala, also took potshots at the Chief Minister. Mr Badal said the recent statement of the Chief Minister claiming that the state did not need the refinery seemed to indicate a shady deal as some industrial houses did not want their monopoly in this field to be challenged. Capt Kanwaljit said Capt Amarinder Singh may belong to the city but the gates of his palace residence were not open for the common man.

PTI adds: Promising a second Green Revolution, the Prime Minister lashed out at the Congress government in Punjab for not taking advantage of the Centre’s package to bail out the sugarcane farmers.

“We had prepared a package for the sugarcane farmers of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Uttaranchal. Till today the state government has not taken Rs 30 crore which we were giving”, he said while dismissing complaints that the Centre is not providing funds to the states.

“The fact is that we are providing funds but they are not taking it.”

Asserting that the Centre and states had to work in tandem, Mr Vajpayee said his government wanted to bring about the second Green Revolution.

Earlier, former Chief Minister and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal said the Congress during its rule at the Centre had asked Punjab to pay Rs 3600 crore for deploying central paramilitary forces like the Central Rreserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Border Security Force (BSF) to fight counter-insurgency operations in the state.

“The Vajpayee government waived that loan,” he said alleging that the Congress had not done anything for the state. The NDA government sanctioned an international airport at Amritsar, sanctioned three new lines, including Chandigarh-Ludhiana and sanctioned Rs 1,200 crore for the Ranjit Sagar Dam project to increase power generation in the state.

“Amarinder Singh has framed false cases against SAD leaders and the misrule has to end,” he said.

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