Friday, October 18, 2019

Posted at: Mar 16, 2019, 7:13 AM; last updated: Mar 17, 2019, 7:05 AM (IST)2 YEARS IN OFFICE — THE TRIBUNE INTERVIEW

‘Punjab's economy back on track, drug mafia eliminated’

Capt: More than satisfactory
‘Punjab's economy back on track, drug mafia eliminated’
Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab CM

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh completes two years of his second term in office today. In an interview with The Tribune, he recounted his government’s achievements. Excerpts:

How would you rate the performance of your government?

More than satisfactory. We have made progress on all fronts, despite an acute financial crisis. We have put the economy back on track and alleviated the woes of lakhs of farmers with our debt waiver scheme. Investors and industry are now coming to Punjab. We have been able to break the backbone of the drug mafia. Most gangs have been eliminated. We’re facilitating employment with 5.76 lakh youth getting jobs every day in the government and private sectors. 

We brought an end to VVIP culture within days of taking over. Other states followed suit. There is a lot more — development of infrastructure, particularly link roads, upgrading standards of education and making healthcare more accessible and affordable. We have raised the quantum of funds for social welfare schemes and launched Mahatma Gandhi Sarbat Vikas Yojana to ensure the benefits reach the intended beneficiaries. Most importantly, we have brought transparency in governance.

There is a perception that several ministers, especially Navjot Singh Sidhu and Sukhjinder Randhawa, are not on the same page with you. 

I am not clear what exactly you are referring to, but in a democratic institution, everyone has the right to opinion on issues. Navjot felt differently on the issue of travelling to Pakistan for Imran Khan’s swearing-in. But as I have stated earlier there were personal reasons. It has been the Congress culture to allow members to speak their mind and yet be on the same page on a majority of issues. I am sure Navjot is on the same page as me when it comes to national security. His remarks on the IAF airstrikes need to be read in the same light. He is an emotional man.

As for Sukhjinder, like other ministers, he wants quick action in sacrilege cases. But I have made it clear to him, and to everyone else, I cannot just rush to throw someone behind bars, without proper investigation. The judiciary will take action once investigations are complete. Sukhjinder knows I don’t believe in vendetta.

Have you been able to deal with the drug and liquor mafia and organised crime?

Very effectively, I would say. As I have said many a time, we have broken the backbone of the drugs mafia and saved our youth. Owing to efforts by the STF formed to tackle the menace, 19,443 cases have been filed under the NDPS Act, 22,933 persons arrested and 469 kg of heroin seized, besides other substances. Simultaneously, we are focusing on treatment and rehabilitation of the affected youth.

Coming to organised crime, our police has made a major breakthrough and eliminated notorious gangsters who had a free run under the previous regime. The figures with me show 1,332 gangsters and 18 terrorist modules have been busted and three terrorists and 22 foreign handlers either arrested or neutralised. 

What about the outcome of the SIT probe into the role of bigwigs in sacrilege cases?

Let me clarify the SIT is not investigating the role of bigwigs in sacrilege cases, it is probing all aspects of the crime and the subsequent police firing. As to when the SIT will complete the probe is not for me to say. It is an independent agency. It will submit its findings to courts after the investigations are over. Those who have tried to divide us by inciting communal hatred and those behind the killing of innocent persons have to face the consequences of their actions. They have already gone scot-free for long.

Your party MLAs feel it is the bureaucracy, not elected representatives, who are calling the shots. 

There were some complaints initially from MLAs but those were resolved. I personally told the bureaucrats that they must respect the MLAs, who are a bridge between the government and the people. They have been told that any lack of respect to elected representatives will not be tolerated. The bureaucracy and elected representatives are now working closely in the interest of the people. They are both pillars of my  government. I will ensure they continue to work in harmony.

The bureaucracy and elected representatives are working closely in the interest of the people. They are both pillars of my government. I will ensure they continue to work in harmony. — Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab CM


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