The Congress has a good chance of bagging the Gurdaspur seat, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief and the party’s candidate Sunil Jakhar told Manu Pubby in an interview hours before a mega roadshow of Priyanka Gandhi in Pathankot on Tuesday. Edited excerpts:.

On BJP fielding Sunny Deol

It is basically a matter of branding. He is a known product. The thing is there was a leadership hollowness here even though Pathankot is known as an RSS leadership nursery. They have put their best foot forward as Modi sahib doesn’t like criticism and the issue I have raised. He made it a personal issue.

On nationalism as a poll plank
Nationalism has always been a top priority here as every other household has a connection to the armed forces. So it resounds but also raises questions. People are asking why did Pulwama happen. He (Modi) says focus on Balakot, but I am asking why 40 people died in Pulwama. I am not saying there was complicity but there was actionable intelligence available.

It gives credence to rumours of six months ago that Modi was on the way out and he would do something – a communal riot or a tiff with Pakistan. So we are asking questions. If he is taking credit for Balakot as if he was the Wing Commander who dropped the bombs, he has to take responsibility for Pulwama too.

On people voting on Balakot We are not shying away from war, but war is not something to look forward to. This fake or pseudo nationalism which Modi is talking about is not acceptable. When required, we will not shy away from the utmost sacrifice, but tell me: Which other head of state talks (casually) about nuclear weapons? It is only North Korea. This pseudo nationalism will not work.

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On Capt Amarinder Singh naming him as a future CM

He has not only been very generous but also been indulgent to me. Had it not been for him, I would have left politics long ago. It is with this association with him that I have learnt the ropes of politics.

On Pitroda’s comments

Punjab is one of the most secular states – and it’s a shining example that those things were like a bad dream. People want closure for 1984 and so does the Congress, but the Akalis have always tried to exploit it. I would like the perpetrators of the riots to be hanged, nothing else. The Akalis who fired on unarmed protesters who were against the desecration of religious text want to now deflect the issue by hiding behind someone’s remarks. The issue is closure and people want it but they see through this deflection.





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