Former Chief Minister and Punjab Lok Congress president Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said he was not against the people of Pakistan but their rulers and the Army who were “fomenting trouble” here and killing Indian soldiers on the borders.
Addressing public meetings in support of party candidates Farzana Alam from Malerkotla and Sardar Ali from Amargarh, Mr Singh said, these elections were going to decide the future of Punjab as the state was confronted by multiple challenges which could be faced by a "double engine" government only.
Mr Singh's PLC is fighting the February 20 polls in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is in power at the centre, and Shiromani Akali Dal (Sanyukt).
The term "double engine" is used by BJP leaders to refer to the party being in power at the Centre as well as in a state.
Before independence, about 40 per cent of the population of Patiala was Muslim and most of them migrated to Pakistan, Singh said as he recalled how he was honoured and felicitated in the neighbouring country during his visit there in 2004 as the Punjab chief minister.
I am all for good relationship between the two countries, but the Pakistani prime minister and his army are being too hostile towards India which is unacceptable, Singh said.
Taking a dig at Aam Aadmi Party's chief ministerial candidate, Singh said, "Bhagwant Mann is a good actor who amuses people and makes them laugh on television".
But running the government is serious business unlike amusing people or making them laugh, he said in a statement while warning that Punjab needs serious and mature leadership, which can take care of the state's security and also end the “multiple problems” it faces.
The former Chief Minister also targeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for claiming that he had nominated Charanjit Singh Channi as the party's chief ministerial candidate as he comes from a humble background.
"Channi is among the richest candidates fighting elections with properties worth hundreds of crores," he alleged.
Otherwise also, "just being poor does not make you qualified to be the chief minister", he said.
Appealing to people to elect the PLC candidates for their “better future”, he reminded them that it was his government which made Malerkotla a district and also announced to set up a medical college there.
He further promised to set up a university in the city "once the BJP-PLC-SAD(S) government is formed in the state".
Responding to the demands of local people, he also promised to make Malerkotla a municipal corporation for improving civic amenities there.
Malerkotla was declared Punjab's 23rd district in May 2021 when Singh was the Chief Minister.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)