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Exclusive | India General Elections 2024: AAP will rule in Punjab, says Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal

Updated on: 28 May,2024 07:20 AM IST  |  Amritsar
Faisal Tandel |

AAP’s Amritsar candidate Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal says previous governments have failed the state, tells mid-day of his plans

Exclusive | India General Elections 2024: AAP will rule in Punjab, says Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal

Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal while campaigning in Sandhu Colony, Amritsar

Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidate for the Amritsar Lok Sabha constituency, is contesting for the second time against the incumbent MP, Gurjeet Singh Aujla of the Congress. Dhaliwal, currently serving as an MLA for the Ajnala assembly constituency, is also a cabinet minister in the Punjab government led by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann.

He holds the portfolios for Rural Development and Panchayats, Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and NRI Affairs. During a campaign visit to Amritsar, Dhaliwal took team mid-day through several areas of the constituency to understand and address local issues. The visit included a stop at K D Ganesha Hospital, where Dhaliwal engaged with the hospital staff to learn about their challenges.

Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann during a rally
Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal and Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann during a rally

As the campaign convoy moved to Sandhu Colony, Dhaliwal navigated the narrow bylanes that vehicles struggle to pass through if another vehicle comes from the opposite direction. In these bylanes, he held meetings with locals who voiced their concerns about the sewage water line. Dhaliwal assured them that he would work towards resolving these issues.

While walking through the streets, Dhaliwal pointed out an electric pole situated in the middle of the road, obstructing traffic. He explained that despite the efforts of local authorities, the pole had not been relocated. Dhaliwal promised that if elected as an MP, his first task would be to move the pole to a safer location, demonstrating his commitment to improving infrastructure and public safety. Dhaliwal’s hands-on approach and promises of practical solutions aim to win the confidence of Amritsar’s residents as he strives to unseat the incumbent MP and bring change to the constituency.

Excerpts from an interview…

Being an MLA, you got a chance to run for MP. What do you have to say about this?
I am happy that my superiors believed in me and gave me the opportunity. I think I would be the first person to get three different positions in less than five years… first an MLA, then a minister with three departments and now an MP contestant. The responsibility is big and there is much to be done. I am getting a good response from the public and I’m ready to accept the responsibility and work for the citizens.

CM Bhagwant Mann, while campaigning, is saying ‘Iss Baar Zero Par’. Who is he referring to?
We are referring to the Akali Dal and Badal family. Because the situation they are going through is very bad and the people of Punjab too need a change on the ground.

The polling date of June 1 coincides with the date of Operation Blue Star in 1984…
I will tell the citizens to remember the day when the Congress government attacked the Golden Temple and left it completely damaged. The people should remember that and not vote for Congress.

During a roadshow, Bhagwant Mann said the INDIA bloc will form a government at the Centre soon, and that he will make you a minister. Isn’t it too early to declare this?
Our chief minister is confident about me and Punjab. Also, he has some idea about the present political scenario all over India. Hence he announced the same.

Are you ready to take on the responsibility?
Yes, I am always ready to work for the citizens. Since 2015 I have been working politically and I’m sure I haven’t taken even a single holiday during the tenure. I work 24 hours a day for the party and citizens.

You are contesting against Congress in Amritsar, but in other areas, you have an alliance?
Congress is totally corrupted in Punjab. So the Aam Aadmi Party didn’t go for an alliance in Punjab. While in other states we have an alliance as we have to defeat BJP and Narendra Modi.

How many seats will AAP get in Punjab out of the 13?
AAP will get all the 13 seats in Punjab. We are getting a good response. You can see BJP is in a bad state in Punjab. They had the seat in the past but no work was done. Congress is also ending in Punjab. So we are leading here.

Employment is one of the biggest issues in Punjab. What will you do about citizens going abroad for work and settling there?
AAP and I personally want to do something big for employment so that citizens going abroad have a reason to stay back. CM Bhagwant Mann is continuously working to bring industries and agro industries in Punjab. It is big work to bring employment and we are confident that we will do it. If one gets jobs in Punjab there will be no need to go broad.

You were abroad for almost 13 years? Why did you go and what made you return?
I went in 2000 and returned in 2013. During that time there was terrorism. Three of my family members had been killed. My family suffered great losses. So the only option left was to go abroad. But the situation has changed now so I came back to work for the citizens and bring change in Punjab.

PM Narendra Modi came to campaign for BJP in Punjab…
I said earlier too, the BJP is nowhere in Punjab and they will see an end here as people don’t want them.

Arvind Kejriwal, your party chief and Delhi CM, was jailed by the central government. How do you think this will affect the elections?
The BJP has made a big mistake by putting Kejriwal behind bars. The BJP will go down for this act. The citizens will punish them for what they have done.

What is the margin of votes you expect to win by?
I will win with a margin of at least 2.5 lakh votes.

What about farmers’ protests along the Punjab and Haryana borders?
The Modi government is responsible for the deaths of farmers protesting against the central government’s farm law. Modi has still not asked for an apology from those responsible. The farmers are also not given assistance or jobs or any other help. Whatever help they receive comes from the Punjab government. AAP demands apologies for the deaths of farmers and the central government should implement MSP across India, which is the right of every farmer. Also, loans should be waived. Modi has waived the loans of big people, amounting to Rs 25 lakh crore. But this hasn’t been done for farmer loans which are to the tune of Rs 90,000 crore. Those businessmen who benefited are living luxurious lives while the farmers are fighting for their lives.

Profile of Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal

>> First elected MLA in 2022 from Ajnala constituency, a small town with around 1,66,000 voters
>> Launched development projects worth R320 crore in the last 2 years
>> Reclaimed 11,000 acres of government land worth R3,000 crore from land mafia and encroachers
>> Resolved 1,500 NRI cases across Punjab and recovered USD 9 million for NRIs
>> First minister in India to hold live Janta Darbar on social media platform
>> Paid sugarcane farmers R400 crore which was pending for several years
>> Rescued several Punjabis who were stranded abroad after being duped by visa agents
>> Launched investigation of 271 fake visa agents across Punjab
>> Gave highest sugarcane price among all Indian states to farmers in Punjab
>> Approached Canadian government for hundreds of Indian students facing student visa scam
>> Distributed 23,200 CRM machines to help farmers curb stubble burning
>> First minister of Punjab to implement biometric attendance in Kheti Bhawan to ensure official accountability of government to people
>> Created new agriculture policy to make farming profitable
>> Banned sale of pesticides dangerous to human body
>> Implemented rights of women sarpanches 
Amritsar Lok Sabha 

Gurjeet Singh Aujla of the Congress won the Amritsar constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, securing 4,45,032 votes. Aujla won with a margin of 99,626 votes over BJP’s Hardeep Singh Puri who received 3,45,406 votes. Kuldip Singh Dhaliwal secured 20,087 votes.

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