New Delhi : Dubbing the Canadian Defence Minister a `Khalistani sympathizer’, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has said that…


New Delhi : Dubbing the Canadian Defence Minister a `Khalistani sympathizerÂ, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh has said that he would not meet the Indo-Canadian during his expected visit to India later this month. 

Harjit Sajjan is a Khalistani sympathizer, and so was his father, Captain Amarinder said on senior journalist Shekhar GuptaÂs ÂOff the Cuff show for NDTV24X7 here. 

The Chief Minister said there were, in fact, five ministers in the Justin Trudeau government who were Khalistani sympathizers and he would not have any truck with them. ÂThese Khalistani sympathizers had prevailed upon the government to prevent my entry into Canada, where I wanted to go to meet my Punjabi brethren and not to campaign for elections, said Captain Amarinder. 

Captain Amarinder responded with frankness to several controversial questions, including beef ban, saying people had the right to, and should be allowed to eat whatever they wanted. 

He also made it clear he was not in favour of a ban on Pakistani artistes, and said he would be happy to invited them to Punjab and would also love to visit Pakistan again. It was time to mend fences and make friends with Pakistan, he said, urging New Delhi to be wary of China on the other border. Recalling EnglandÂs `war of rosesÂ, the Chief Minister said the Indo-Pak tensions were going the same way and needed to give way to peace. 

Seeing a deliberate malicious attempt being made by vested interests to pull down Rahul Gandhi, he urged the people to give the Congress vice president a chance. There was a clear conspiracy against Rahul, who was being targeted with ridiculous names, said Captain Amarinder. 

Captain Amarinder said he had always found Rahul Gandhi extremely perceptive and willing to listen, besides being open to suggestions and ideas. He asserted that the Congress Vice President extended to him full support during the recent Punjab assembly elections, and he faced no problems at all in the matter of seat allocation. 

The Chief Minister admitted that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal had been a challenge in the recent assembly elections but their failure to project a Punjabi for the chief ministerÂs post cost them heavy and exposed KejriwalÂs ambition to become the CM. AAP, said the Chief Minister, had no future unless they changed their style of functioning. He criticized AAPÂs confrontationist attitude, saying states had to work with the Centre and it was important to maintain a working relationship. He himself had excellent relations with the NDA government at the Centre during his previous tenure as chief minister, said Captain Amarinder. 

On the controversial EVMs issue, Captain Amarinder said had the EVMs been tampered with in Punjab, he would not be sitting here today. However, he was quick to note that it was important to find out the reason for many advanced countries refusing to adopt EVMs. 

Describing PunjabÂs current conditions as pathetic, with the state reeling under a massive Rs. 1.82 lakh crore debt, the Chief Minister listed economic revival, along with drugs, education, agriculture, unemployment and health, as his governmentÂs top priority. 

Referring to his governmentÂs crackdown on drugs, Captain Amarinder revealed that with the STF launching a crackdown, things were moving in the right direction. Hundreds of youngsters were voluntarily coming to the rehabilitation centres and the anti-drugs helpline had so far received more than 4000 calls to give information to the agencies. 

On the contentious SYL issue, Captain Amarinder reiterated his stand that the state had no water to spare and pointed out that even Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken note of his concern on the issue. He pointed out that water had been at the root of terrorism in Punjab and the issue could not be allowed to aggravate again.