After Punjab victory, Amarinder seeks bigger role for regional leaders

A day after he led the Congress to a sweeping victory in the Punjab assembly polls, state Congress president Amarinder Singh on Sunday called for a "bigger role" for regional leaders.

Amarinder Singh told media in Patiala, 60 km from here, that it was important to promote regional leaders in order to counter other regional parties in states.

"It is vital to project a regional face that could identify with the people of the region," he said, noting that the absence of a regional face was as one of reasons for the drubbing received by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the state.

Regarding Navjot Singh Sidhu's role in the new dispensation in Punjab, he said the decision in this matter rested with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi.

Amarinder said that the priorities of his government would be to eradicate the prevalence of drugs in Punjab and implement the non-monetary promises made in the Congress manifesto.

He announced that a Special Task Force (STF) would be set up to crack down on the drugs racket in Punjab. Amarinder, during the campaigning, had vowed to eradicate drugs from Punjab within four weeks of coming to power.

"The drug that we are after is 'chitta' (white synthetic drug). We will take action," he said.

Ruling out any 'vendetta' politics by his government, he said that proper investigations would be conducted to pin responsibility in drugs and other crimes, and suitable action will be taken against those found guilty.

Amarinder said that the election results had blown the lid from the hype created regarding the popularity of the AAP in the state, while the Congress' winning performance in three of the five states that went to polls showed that the party's overall standing had improved.

He said that he would be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi soon to discuss various development projects for Punjab.

Asked about farm loan waivers, a key poll promise in the manifesto, Amarinder said he was fully committed to implementing the same and would ensure that adequate funds are raised for it.

On his promise of revival of industries, he said the industrial policy would be liberalised to check the flight of industries and make Punjab an attractive destination. He disclosed that several leading industrialists had been in touch with him and evinced interest in investing in Punjab.

"Global tenders would soon be floated to procure smartphones, as promised under the 'Captain Smart Connect programme' launched ahead of the polls," he said.

Regarding the controversy over the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal, Amarinder stressed the need to first ascertain the quantum of water available to the state.

The Congress returned to power after 10 years, winning 77 seats in the 117-member assembly.

The AAP managed to win 20 seats and its ally Lok Insaaf Party two, while the Shiromani Akali Dal only ended up with 15 seats and its ally BJP with three.

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