Amritsar: Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday fired a salvo at cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu, saying Amritsar has had the misfortune of having an 'absentee MP' for the last 12-and-a-half years.
Sidhu recently quit the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and joined the Congress.
"Amritsar has had the misfortune of having an absentee MP for the last 12-and-a-half years; an MP who remained absent from the Parliament as well as his constituency. Therefore, there has been no other constituency like Amritsar which has suffered from negligence from his own MP," Jaitley said.
"We'll make sure this time that our elected representatives are present physically rather than through satellite," he added.
Jaitley was addressing the media at Amritsar during his three-day campaign tour in the poll-bound Punjab.
The BJP leader also said the party was confident of doing extremely well in the elections.
Jaitley said, "The performance of the government as far as the whole nation is concerned has generated immense positive reactions. This will augur well for the party in the poll-bound states, including Punjab. The BJP, with demonetisation, has made sure that corruption is washed off from this country. Any tough decisions that needed to be taken in this context have been taken."
The Union Minister expressed his confidence that the BJP will bring an unprecedented era of development to Punjab.
Pitting nominees from the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress from Lambi Assembly constituency against Shiromani Akali Dal's (SAD) heavyweight and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Jaitley said Badal has a legendary status and dubbed the opposition as 'divided'.
"Badal sahab has a legendary status. He has been working for Punjab's development for so long. With the kind of politics the AAP has been resorting to, people know them better now," Jaitley said.
On the question of caste-based reservation, Jaitley said, "Since the beginning, the BJP has been in the favour of social justice. We totally support caste-based reservation for Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) and will support it under any circumstances."
When questioned about the handing over of Indian soldier Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan who had crossed the LOC by mistake, ending up in Pakistan, Jaitley said that the gesture was definitely a step towards friendship.
"It was absolutely clear that he had carelessly overstepped the line. And he had to return in the fitness of things. We are happy that he has," Jaitley said.
The Union Finance Minister also commented that Punjab is under as much debt as the other states are and the fiscal deficit is very much within permissible limits.
Notably, Jaitley had unsuccessfully contested against Captain Amarinder Singh from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 General Elections.
The BJP is contesting on four assembly seats from the Amritsar parliamentary constituency. Punjab goes in to polls on February 4 and the counting will take place on March 11....