INTERVIEW | There will be reverse sweep in Punjab this time: Sukhbir Singh Badal on Lok Sabha Polls
It’s being said SAD’s graph is at an all-time low due to the anger against the party for its handling of the sacrilege incidents, subsequent police firing and the apology to Ram Rahim.
Congress Government has miserably failed on all fronts while AAP has almost finished in Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal claimed in an interview with Harpreet Bajwa.
On what all issues the SAD-BJP alliance will fight the coming Lok Sabha elections?
The SAD- BJP alliance will fight the forthcoming elections on the twin issues of teaching a lesson to the Congress Government in Punjab for bringing development to a standstill and reneging on the promises made to the people as well as the need for strong and resolute leadership as given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
How do you rate the performance of Capt Amarinder Singh led Congress Government in Punjab?
One can rate a performance if there is any. Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has zero performance to this credit. It is two years now and he has not implemented even one of the several election promises made by him including complete farm loan waiver and ghar ghar naukari.
Congress claims it will sweep all thirteen seats in Punjab, how do you see SAD-BJP combine performance in this election?
On what basis is the Congress making this claim. It has betrayed each and every section of society. Farmer loans have not been waived. Youth were promised jobs and unemployment allowance of Rs 2,000 per month which has not been given. As much as Rs 1140 crore is pending to the old aged who are not getting pensions. SC scholarship worth Rs 1285 crore has not been given to SC students. Sew Kendras are closed and so are meritorious schools. The common man has been forced to cough up an extra Rs 12,000 crore in power bills. The Industry in is doldrums. The industrial sector was promised power at Rs 5 per unit but is getting it at Rs 8 per unit. There might be a sweep, but it will be a reverse sweep against the Congress party this time.
This time it will be multi corned contest in Punjab and or a straight two-party fight between the SAD-BJP and Congress?
Punjab is headed towards a straight contest between the SAD-BJP alliance and the Congress party. AAP is all but finished. It is not in a contest in even one of the 13 seats in Punjab. The other two so-called fronts – the so-called Taksalis and the Khaira group are Congress fronts and will not have any effect on the poll results.
Does it seem that the third alliance which is being formed in Punjab will dent your vote bank?
We need to understand there is no third alliance. If you are talking about Sukhpal Khaira or the Taksalsi you must know that they are disgruntled elements who have been thrown out of their respective parties. It is also a known fact that the so-called Taksalis and even Khaira are tools in the hands of the Congress party. People have seen through their game plan to weaken Sikhs institutions and the Shiromani Akali Dal and will reject them at the hustings.
During the last elections AAP had emerged as a major force what’s your view about AAP’s performance in 2019 general elections?
Yes, it is true AAP emerged as a formidable force in 2017. But the party has frittered away all the goodwill and has now become a bit player. If you see the performance of AAP after the 2017 election results you will realize this yourself. AAP candidates lost their security deposits in both the Gurdaspur parliamentary by-poll as well as the Shahkot assembly by-election. AAP has failed to make an impact in the municipal corporation elections or elections to panchayat samitis as well as the zila parishads. AAP as a party has also been divided into two in Punjab.
Former AAP leader Sukhpal Khaira and four other MLAs have formed a separate group and are putting up their own candidates. In such a scenario AAP has finished as a party in Punjab.
People in the know of things say that the Shiromani Akali Dal graph at an all-time low due to the anger against the party as it handled the sacrilege incidents, followed by the firing and the apology to the Dera Sirsa Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim all this had multiplied people’s anger manifold what’s your take on it?
The proof of the pudding is in its tasting. I invite you to come to the field and see how people are responding to SAD meetings. I have gone to more than 70 assembly constituencies in the last one month and interacted with thousands of party workers. Our cadre is buoyant. The SAD is on a major upswing and you will see this for yourself in the 2019 elections.
Former judge Ranjit Singh, who headed a panel probing incidents of sacrilege and police firing in Punjab, has filed a criminal complaint against you and your brother-in-law Bikram Singh Majithia for making false, derogatory and defamatory statements against him, your take on it?
The issue is in the courts and I would not like to comment on it. But people know the truth. Even the media quoted CM Capt Amarinder Singh as well as Pradesh Congress President Sunil Jakhar announcing the findings of the Ranjit Singh Commission even before it submitted its findings. How fair do you suppose that is?
Congress claims it’s a party pro-farmers and pro-poor because it has waived off the loans of farmers and farm labourers, do you agree with it?
You must have seen the video of Capt Amarinder Singh promising to waive off loans of Rs 90,000 crore including loans taken from nationalized and cooperative banks as also private money lenders. The Congress Government has come out with crop loan waiver which has exacerbated the rate of suicides in Punjab which have crossed the 900 mark in two years of Congress rule. After befooling the farmers the Congress is now promising khet mazdoor that their loans will also be waived off. This is a case of pure cheating.
Your party is considered the panthic party but it was the Congress government which waived of GST on langar at Golden Temple, your take on it?
This is not the case. It was the SAD-BJP government had earlier waived off VAT on langar during its tenure. When GST regime came into being, the Congress Government did not waive off GST on langar immediately. In fact it announced this step when the central government was at the final stage of waiving off GST on langar at the instance of the SAD.
The drug issue is also seen as the legacy of the last SAD-BJP rule, how do you look at this issue resonating in Punjab?
Capt Amarinder Singh promised on the holy Gutka Sahib that he would eradicate drug problem in Punjab within four weeks of taking over the reins of the State. It has increased since then. There have been more addiction related deaths in Punjab in the last two years, than ever before in the history of the State. The government has miserably failed to implement the de-addiction programme initiated by former CM Parkash Singh Badal.
Their grape wine is that union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal this time might contest from Ferozepur and not from Bathinda?
Fielding of candidates is the prerogative of the party’s core committee. The party will collectively take a decision on Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s candidature.