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LS polls: BJP candidate Sandhu says his campaign will focus on increasing exports from Amritsar

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Chandigarh, Apr 1 (PTI) Former diplomat and BJP candidate from Amritsar Lok Sabha seat Taranjit Singh Sandhu on Monday said his campaign will focus on raising exports of goods like shawls, 'phulkari', and vegetables from Amritsar to increase income of people.

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Sandhu, who recently joined the saffron party, also stressed on enhancing skills of the youth, asserting that education should be skill oriented rather than being degree oriented.

The 61-year-old former ambassador to the US is the grandson of Teja Singh Samundri who was one of the founding members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and who played an important role in the gurdwara reform movement.

Sandhu's father Bishan Singh Samundri was the principal of Khalsa College, Amritsar, and the first vice chancellor of the Guru Nanak Dev University.

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Speaking to reporters in Amritsar, Sandhu said he worked for 36 years in the Indian Foreign Service.

"I have returned home after retirement from service," said the former diplomat who retired in February.

Replying to a question, Sandhu said he will seek a special package from Prime Minister Narendra Modi for Amritsar.

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To a question on opposition leaders calling him a "parachute" candidate, Sandhu said like a soldier who comes back after retirement from his service, he has also returned home upon superannuation.

On the ties between the US and India, Sandhu said the relationship between the two countries has transformed into a partnership.

US-based companies are making investments in India, he said, adding it will generate jobs in the country.

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Asked which issues he will be taking to the people of Amritsar for the Lok Sabha polls, Sandhu said only 20 per cent of the cargo facility at the Amritsar international airport was being used at present.

"It should be used 100 per cent and we will get it done," he said.

He said Amritsar has traditional items like 'phulkari', 'pappar', 'wadi', 'juttis', shawls and mufflers which have export potential.

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If these items are sent to retail majors like Walmart in the US, then "our household incomes will increase", he said.

He said that bicycle maker Hero Cycles had approached for a tie-up with Walmart one-and-half years ago.

"Today Hero bicycles are sold at Walmart," he added.

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Sandhu further said Indian goods can also be exported to the UAE.

He also said vegetables like raddish and turnip should be grown in Amritsar, saying it has potential for exports.

On tourism potential, Sandhu said every day 1.50 lakh visitors come to Amritsar and their number goes up to 2.50 lakh in the weekends.

"It is in our hands to convert visitors into tourists," he said as he cited important places including Golden Temple, Durgiana Mandir, Jallianwala Bagh and retreat ceremony at Attari-Wagah border.

Sandhu said youth can initiate start-up in the field of tourism which will generate employment.

On former BJP leader late Arun Jaitley and Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri losing the polls in 2014 and 2019 respectively from Amritsar, Sandhu said it is people's right whom they elect.

"I will take my practical ideas to the voters," he said. PTI CHS KVK KVK

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