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Punjab

SAD leaders experienced, not dependent on me’

September 29, 2018 05:24 AM

courtesy  TOI SEPT 29

SAD leaders experienced, not dependent on me’
Five-time CM Parkash Singh Badal turned 90 last year, but he is yet to tire out. While many thought the SAD’s defeat in 2017 assembly polls would keep Badal away from politics, he is back in action, gathering support in his constituency, Lambi, for SAD’s Jabar Virodhi Rally in Patiala on Oct 7. TOI’s Neel Kamal catches up with him
When SAD lost assembly polls, it was said you would no longer be active politically.

I am a fighter who accepts challenges. The Congress wrongly thought that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was a spent force and threw challenges at it. I never run away from such things and am now working towards a strong reply. Punjab Congress chief Sunil Jakhar said we will not able to enter villages. So, we proved him wrong. In fact, his own village’s panchayat welcomed Sukhbir. We were told we may not succeed at Faridkot, but we proved them wrong there too.


Does this mean that other Akali leaders are not competent enough to deal with any issues?

That is not the point. Our leadership is competent enough; it is the party leadership which is working overtime under president Sukhbir Badal. I am working because I am not in the habit of sitting idle. This does not mean that the leadership lacks commitment and courage to take on opponents.

But is it not relying more on you to tide over the crises?

First, the party is not facing any crisis. Also, it is not dependent on me solely. I am a guiding force and love to fight from the front. The entire party leadership is working in cohesion and taking on the ruling party.

Do you feel Akali leadership lacks experience in tackling such situations?

No, not at all. The SAD leadership is quite experienced. It takes things head-on and answers accordingly.

It is said the SAD old guard and Taksali leaders are remembered only during a crisis.

That is a wrong statement. All senior leaders of Shiromani Akali Dal are working for the party. All who remain at the forefront are Taksali. It is not that they are remembered only during crisis, they always remain at the front.

How do you justify SAD’s boycott of the legislative assembly’s debate on Justice Ranjit Singh (retd) Commission’s report?

We do not approve of the commission. So, when we do not consider the commission to be impartial, why should we take part in a debate on its recommendations or report.

It is said you were in touch with police on the night before firing incidents in Kotkapura and Behbal Kalan on October 14, 2015.

The CM’s duty is to take first-hand information about what is happening. I have said many times that Kotkapura and Behbal are different. I was in touch (with police) to know the goings-on at Kotkapura as people were on protest there. The Behbal incident was sudden; there was no provocation. Let me make it clear that the CM does not order such firings.

Did police then take the decision to fire at protesters on their own?

The police force was told to tackle the situation peacefully; it was asked to act according to the situation and without any provocation. I, again, will say the situation in Kotkapura was tackled effectively.

Having lost the zila parishad and panchayat samiti polls, how do you see SAD doing in the 2019 polls?

In these recent elections, the Congress government virtually murdered democracy. I have never seen such highhandedness in my political life. Officers were specifically told to rig the elections. We complained, but no one listened to us. This was why no incident of violence took place when repolls were conducted. All this makes it clear that the polls were rigged on the directions of the state government and in connivance with officers. Despite all this, Akali workers and leaders resisted.

It is said your daughter-in-law, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, could contest the 2019 general elections from a constituency other than Bathinda.

This is for the party’s core committee to decide when the time comes. She has done a lot for Bathinda. The development Harsimrat ensured in the parliamentary segment could not have even been thought of earlier.

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