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Amarinder to take oath as Punjab CM on March 16

Source: PTI
March 12, 2017 18:12 IST
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After guiding the Congress to a thumping victory in the state assembly polls, senior party leader Captain Amarinder Singh is all set to take oath as the chief minister of Punjab on March 16.

Talking to media outside Punjab Raj Bhavan in Chandigarah on Sunday, he said that he will go to Delhi on March 14 to meet Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi and discuss formation of the new government.

The oath taking ceremony will take place on March 16, he said.

However, the scion of erstwhile Patiala Royal family refused to comment on the number of ministers who will be part of the new cabinet. He said the Congress government will be accountable to the people of the state.

Amarinder earlier held an official meeting with Governor V P Singh Badnore for staking claims to form the new government in the state.

He was also unanimously elected as Congress Legislature Party leader by the newly-elected party MLAs in a meeting held at party office.

Navjot Singh Sidhu (Amritsar East), Pargat Singh (Jalandhar Cantt), Raj Kumar Verka (Amritsar East) were some of the newly-elected MLAs present at the meeting.

Congress ended the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party combine's ten year regime by registering a thumping win by bagging 77 seats, one short of two-third majority.

Rookie Aam Aadmi Party managed to get 20 seats, while SAD-BJP won 18 seats in the state polls. Two seats went into the kitty of AAP's ally Lok Insaf Party.

The winning margin of Amarinder from Patiala seat was the highest in the 117-member Punjab assembly. He won convincingly with a margin of 52,407 votes after defeating his nearest rival AAP candidate Balbir Singh.

Earlier, Singh asserted that his government will form a 'Special Task Force' to curb the drug menace in Punjab, while making the state more investor-friendly.

He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured him full cooperation for the development of the state.

On the vexed issue of Sutlej Yamuna Link canal, Amarinder said it was important to see the quantum of water available with Punjab.

"When Punjab does not have enough water, the question of giving it to other states does not arise," he said.

He said that Punjab has 60 per cent of agrarian land with just eight MAF (million acre-feet) water, while Haryana with 40 per cent of agriculture land has 12 MAF water.

"The Congress-led state government will create an investor-friendly environment in the state. We will make the state's industrial policy more liberal," he asserted, adding many top industrialists were in touch with him to set up their units in Punjab.

He said a Special Task Force will be set up to tackle the state's drug problem.

Amarinder maintained that there was a new wave in favour of Congress in the country.

Commenting on newcomer AAP's showing in the state polls, the senior Congress leader said, "AAP's bubble has burst". 

"There was no wave of AAP in Punjab. The party's hype was only on social media," he said.

The senior Congress leader also pointed out the "absence of a regional figure in AAP", adding that it was the reason behind its drubbing in the state polls.

Calling for a "bigger role for regional leaders in states", Amarinder said it was vital to project a regional face who could identify with the people.

On being asked whether his party would indulge in political vendetta against the Badals, he said, "We will not work with political vendetta against opponents."

Amarinder also promised to bring reforms in the state police department.

"There is a financial problem in Punjab, but we are not afraid...we will ensure that poll promises are fulfilled. We will work day and night to bring Punjab back on track," he said. 

On being quizzed about the party's 'poor' performance in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, Amarinder said that he spoke to Priyanka Gandhi on Saturday night and that they discussed how the Congress had the chance of a comeback in the politically-crucial state, just as it did in Punjab.

He said that the Congress' winning performance in three of the five states that went to polls showed that the "party's overall standing had improved."

On the 'Captain Smart Connect' programme launched ahead of the Punjab assembly polls, he said global tenders would soon be floated to procure smartphones as promised under the scheme.

Amarinder along with his newly elected MLAs will hold a meeting at Chandigrah later in the day following which he will meet Governor V P Singh Badnore to stake claim to form the government in the state.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal submitted his resignation to Governor V P Singh Badnore following his party's defeat in the assembly polls. The senior Akali leader said that he will support the Congress government for the development of Punjab.

Lok Insaf Party members Simarjeet Singh Bains and Balwinder Singh Bains also announced their support to the Congress for the development of the state.

IMAGE: Captain Amarinder Singh meets Governor V P Singh Badnore at Punjab Raj Bhavan in Chandigarah. Photograph: Amarinder Singh/Facebook

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