Congress’s Amarinder Singh Challenges Arvind Kejriwal, Parkash Singh Badal To Public Debate

CHANDIGARH: As the parties warm up to the upcoming polls in Punjab, gloves have begun to come off in the state. Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh on Saturday challenged Arvind Kejriwal and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to an “open, public debate” on any issue relevant to the upcoming state Assembly election.

After welcoming more than 300 AAP supporters and a Youth Akali Dal leader from Malwa into his party in Chandigarh, Mr Singh, at a press meet, accused AAP national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal of being an “escapist” and “trying to run away from a debate on one pretext or the other”.

“As a chief ministerial aspirant, he should have the guts to face me directly, instead of putting others in the front,” he said.

The Congress leader dismissed the AAP chief’s claims that he did not want to become the chief minister of Punjab saying, “It has become quite evident that his (Mr Kejriwal’s) eyes are set on the top position in Punjab. He is simply trying to mislead the people by claiming otherwise.”

Retaliating against Mr Kejriwal’s charge of a “Congress-BJP nexus” in the run-up to the Punjab polls due early next year, Amarinder said he had been “running around the courts for 10 years under the Badal regime”.

“Does that indicate a nexus,” he asked, asserting that he will “not spare” the chief minister if the Congress formed the next government in the state.

“We have done it earlier. We will put him (Mr Badal) in his place again,” he said. He also accused Mr Badal of making “empty promises” to farmers in the state as well as other sections of the people of Punjab.

Regarding cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu’s Awaaz-e-Punjab front joining hands with his party ahead of the Punjab polls, the state Congress chief said he had already made his stance on the issue clear.

“I have already welcomed him (to join the Congress unconditionally),” he said.