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Boosting tourism top priority: Anil Joshi, Akali candidate from Amritsar

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Former cabinet minister Anil Joshi, who is the candidate for the Shiromani Akali Dal from the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat, says despite being a Hindu, he is receiving an “overwhelming” response from the Sikh community.

I am dedicated only to Punjab. SAD stands for Punjabiat. I feel the BJP has let Punjabis down, especially farmers. The Akali Dal had consciously adopted moderate Punjabi agenda in the 1996 conference held at Moga.

Born in Tarn Taran’s Sanghe village, his father Kishori Lal, a retired government teacher, was killed by terrorists in 1991. He started his political journey in 1988 from being the district chief of the Bajrang Dal. Coming from an RSS background, in 2002, he became the district head of the BJP, Amritsar (rural). He was elected as an MLA from Amritsar (North) in 2007 and again in 2012. He lost to Sunil Dutti of the Congress in 2017. In an interview with Neeraj Bagga, Joshi says that among all political parties, SAD knows the pulse of voters. The excerpts:

Being a Hindu face, is it going to be difficult for you to perform in the Sikh-dominated constituency?

I was born and brought up in a village of Tarn Taran. I ploughed fields in my early years. Despite a Brahmin, I am a ‘Jatt’ the way I spent my life. I still have a very close connection with the peasantry. I know their aspirations. I have spoken in favour of farmers against the Centre during the year-long farm agitation. I was with the BJP at that time.

How difficult was it for you to shift from the saffron party to SAD?

I am dedicated only to Punjab. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) stands for Punjabiat. I felt the BJP has let down the aspirations of the state, particularly farmers. It also needs to be understood that SAD had consciously adopted moderate Punjabi agenda in the 1996 conference held at Moga. Maintaining communal harmony among communities living in Punjabi is the top priority of the party.

What will be your priorities for the holy city?

I want to expand the horizons of infrastructure and tourism in the city. Tourists from all over the world are coming to pay obeisance at the holiest Sikh shrine. Their stay will be made more than comfortable. The priority areas include the sports, healthcare and trade. These will generate employment, which is the need of the hour.

#Lok Sabha #Shiromani Akali Dal #Sikhs

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