Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi has the potential to become the Prime Minister of the country, said Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday, adding that the time was also right for a generational change in the party.
Praising the AICC vice president, the Punjab Chief Minister said he had always found "extremely perceptive and decisive".
There was a "deliberate" attempt to undermine Mr Gandhi's image by calling him names and he has potential to become the Prime Minister of the country, Mr Singh said.
He further added that the time was right for a generational change in the Congress to cater to the aspirations of the over 70 per cent youth population of the country.
While killings and skirmishes had been going on for long, the kind of brutality we see now was not there earlier, the Chief Minister said referring to incidents along the LoC.
Incidents like the recent mutilation of the bodies of two Indian jawans were understandably provoking the wrath of the people and the Indian Army needed to counter such acts effectively, he asserted.
However, striking a note of caution, he said that in the long term, both India and Pakistan needed to think about peace and the future of the coming generations.
The Chief Minister exhibited confidence over the response by investors and industry to the change in dispensation in the state, saying his government had, in just six weeks, been able to build their confidence.
He endorsed his claim by adding that the Bathinda refinery was all set for a Rs. 20,000 crore expansion.
Our government had succeeded in creating the right enabling environment for the elimination of drugs, which were now becoming increasingly less available, as was evidenced in the spike in their prices, Mr Singh exuded strongly.
As the number of youth going to rehabilitation centres increased, the Chief Minister termed it as another indication that his government had successfully broken the backbone of the drugs mafia.
However it would be difficult to wean youth completely away from drugs without giving them employment, to which his government was committed, Mr Singh said.
He further added that his government was going all out with efforts to generate employment, as there were 90 lakh youth in Punjab that is either unemployed or underemployed.
Referring to the state of agriculture in Punjab, the Chief Minister said his government was working to encourage farmers, about 70 percent of whom were small farmers, to diversify and shift from paddy to high cash crops.
Such small farmers, with less than 5 acres each of land, could not survive imposition of taxes, he added referring to a suggestion by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy to tax farm income.
However NITI Aayog vice chairman Arvind Panagariya had said that the question of levying taxes from agricultural income does not arise.
Mr Singh also credited the previous Akali government in the state for creating surplus power.
He however came down heavily on the Shiromani Akali Dal leadership for the huge debt they had left behind, leaving the Congress government with no money to pay salaries or for development.
Pointing towards the education sector Captain Amarinder said that the state government was working to improve education and health in the state adding that without good schooling, higher education remained a problem, which was also reflected in the fact that Punjabis were not faring too well in competitive exams, including those for Army recruitment.
Without mincing words, Captain Amarinder once again repeated that Khalistani sympathisers sitting in Canada were misleading people with false information and he would not allow the peace and stability of Punjab to be destroyed by such elements at any cost.
While Punjabi language accorded due prominence, it was important also to promote English to enable the youth to find jobs in the competitive global market, the Chief Minister said.