New York: Captain Amarinder Singh, former chief minister of the Indian state of Punjab and currently the state Congress chief and MP, was given a rousing reception, when he was invited to address the Punjabi diaspora on May 7th at the Long Island Hilton Hotel in Melville, NY. In addition to Captain Amarinder Singh, the event also hosted the former Maharaja of Patiala.
The leader of the Punjab state Congress Party is travelling through the US to drum up support for the Congress party, which is trying to get back to power in Punjab, where elections are due in February 2017. According to reports, the ruling Akali Dal has lost much of the support and Aam Aadmi Party is gaining ground after winning in Delhi.
Earlier, during an event in Chicago on Friday, the visiting leader said that Punjab desperately needed good governance and this was not the time for experimentation. “Just because some people are telling you that you have tried so and so, now give us a chance does not qualify and entitle them to take over the reins of an important state like Punjab at a critical juncture”, Capt Amarinder told audience in Chicago.
Announcing that it was going to be his last election in 2017, he said, however before hanging his boots, it was his dream to see the smile and shine back on the faces of all the Punjabis, who are otherwise being faced with despair and despondence due to ten year failure of the Akalis. Addressing the Punjabi diaspora and seeking their more involvement and participation in building up Punjab and bringing in change, the former Chief Minister reminded them of their roots and responsibility towards their ancestral place.
“We are glad that all of you have done so well in life and we are proud of you”, he told them, while adding, “now we hope and expect that you will definitely do your bit and help us in re-launching Punjab on the path of progress and prosperity once again”. Later replying to a question, Captain Amarinder said, 1984 was the darkest chapter in the Sikh history which nobody can afford or should forget. “I myself resigned from the parliament and the party over what happened in 1984”, he said, adding, “however Punjab needs to move forward”. He asked as why the Akalis were raking up the issue only during elections and forgetting it the moment elections were over.
Amarinder said, the problem of drugs was very complex and serious saying there were three types of drugs flowing in Punjab. He said, on type of drugs was being smuggled through Pakistan, the other type was coming from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan and the third and the worst type were the synthetic drugs which were being manufactured locally with the patronage of the Akalis.
“Give me a chance and I will finish this problem, not in four weeks as I have promised, but just one week as I know who all are involved and responsible and it only needs an intent and will to finish it”, he said in response to a question amidst thumping applause.
Captain Amarinder Singh has offered to provide NRI Punjabi doctors, specially psychiatrists and therapists, infrastructure to set up de-addiction centers within the existing government hospitals in all major cities of Punjab, if Congress is voted to power in the state. Addressing a gathering of Punjabi diaspora from Central Califonia at Fresno, Capt Amarinder urged the NRI doctors to work in partnership with him for the rehabilitation of lakhs of
Meanwhile, Captain Amarinder Singh is learnt to have cancelled his scheduled seven-day trip to Canada due to the possibility of facing a case relating to torture in a court in Toronto. The decision came on Saturday after Singh had postponed his arrival in Toronto since he wanted to wait for the court to issue an order before he decided on his course of action.
The case was filed by the activist group Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) on behalf of a Canadian resident who was allegedly tortured during Singh’s tenure as chief minister of Punjab. An official statement released by Singh slammed SFJ’s law fare, saying it was “playing into the hands of the anti-India forces like the ISI to embarrass India and project as if rights violations was the norm of the day in the country (India) like some dictatorships in different parts of the world”. He added, “The government of India, rising above political considerations, must take up the matter with the Canadian government at the highest level.”