Amarinder wants to fight against Badal; Akalis say come on

Amritsar/Chandigarh, Jan 14 (IANS) Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh’s raise the stakes in the forthcoming polls by seeking his high command’s permission to fight next month’s assembly elections against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in the latter’s traditional seat Lambi has been welcomed by the ruling party.

Amarinder, whose name has already been announced by the Congress for his traditional assembly seat of Patiala Urban, told media in Amritsar on Saturday that he wanted to contest against Chief Minister Badal from Lambi to defeat the Akali Dal patron whom he blamed for the “ruin of Punjab”.

“I want to fight the Chief Minister on his home turf of Lambi as I want to defeat all the top Akali leaders responsible for destroying the state through their drugs, mafia and goonda raj, and who are guilty of ruining its trade, industry and agriculture,” he said.

Amarinder said he had requested the Congress high command to allow him to fight the assembly polls from Lambi so that he could “free Punjab from the vicious and destructive rule of the Badals”.

Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal asked Amarinder “to take quick permission” to contest from Lambi “before the nomination filing process comes to an end”.

Describing the development as “pathetic and last-ditch attempt by a failed king to stem the rot in his sinking ship”, Sukhbir Badal, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, said: “Amarinder had been resorting to cheap theatrics since the last few months, including false promises of a farm loan waiver which had not been reflected in the party’s manifesto, and the development that he had asked for permission to contest against Parkash Singh Badal was another ploy to gain cheap publicity.”

He said that Amarinder was doing such things to keep himself in the fray as Chief Ministerial candidate of the Congress. “Amarinder probably wants to go down like a martyr,” he claimed.

Parkash Singh Badal meanwhile said that he was “amused by the smart ploy of (Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi to get rid of Amarinder Singh by pushing him into Lambi as everyone knows Rahul doesn’t like him”.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is posing a serious challenge to the Akali Dal-BJP alliance and the Congress for the February 4 assembly polls on 117 seats, has already announced Delhi lawmaker Jarnail Singh to contest against Badal from Lambi.

Amarinder said he would fight the election both in Lambi and Patiala, if permitted by the Congress high command.

“The entire state is in shambles. Badal and his family and associates have brought Punjab to such a shameful pass.

“My government would open a probe into all Akali scams and punish every person found guilty of any criminal deed, especially drugs trade,” said the former Chief Minister.

The Akali Dal-BJP alliance has been in power in Punjab since 2007.