Interview with Deputy chief minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal for Teekhi Baat on IBN 7. With less than three weeks for Punjab polls, the Badal scion speaks about family run politics in India, the ‘Badal’ brandname, Akali Dal’s relationship with the Congress party and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, allegations of black money, state of industry in Punjab and future course of Akali Dal.PC: Tell me one thing, for how many years have you been deputy chief minister.
SSB: From almost two years.
PC: Why should people vote for you? Tell me one or two things, stating these changes have ushered since Sukhbir Singh Badal took charge.
SSB: MCDO reforms, Right to Service Act, power projects, expressways, complete development is our, our government’s and our party’s agenda. You have seen our campaign, we have told only one thing to people, this has been our performance, now you compare our performance with the five year performance of the Congress. Now see who performed more, vote for performance. We have a singular agenda, vote for performance.
PC: So you are demanding votes on the basis of performance. Now the party’s name is Akali Dal, but people who oppose you say the party’s name should be changed to Messrs. Badal and Company, it is more of family fiefdom; I will ask you later about whether you did or did not do development work. Don’t you feel that your regional party is running on parivaarvaad
SSB: Which party in the country does not run on family name? Take Jaylalia, Congress, all parties run on a brand. And Akali Dal is not a parivaarvadi party. Akali Dal is the second oldest party, its president has been Master Tara Singh, Sant Fateh Singh, Longwaal saab, Tilwani saab, my father (Prakash Singh Badal), after my father, the party decided on my appointment, after me somebody else can be post holder. Like the Gandhi family, which as tradition keeps on going on, but here the party committee decides. Before my father, somebody else was at the helm of party affairs.
PC: You talked about brand, do you think that Badal is a brand on which names votes are polled.
SSB: Sahab Prakash Singhji Badal has become a brand of Punjab. Because whole life, he has worked in the service of public. There is no village or city in Punjab which he personally has not been to and when in the right manner his government is formed, it is a government of the people. Now if you see him, he takes decisions by sitting among people.
PC: He is the most senior chief minister, he is also widely respected. But don’t you think because of this the family also benefitted a lot, you became deputy chief minister, your wife became MP, more five six Badal names I can count, the total count of whom can go upto 17-18, some of whom are MLA, some are chairmen of some committee.
SSB: No Badal is chairman; I came into politics 20 years ago. I started as a worker and gradually rose. I became an MP earlier, was a minister at the centre, after that I was also a member of the Rajya Sabha, fought, won and even lost Lok Sabha elections. After have been through all experiences, last year led the election campaign.
PC: Even now you are leading.
SSB: Now I am doing it as party president.
PC: Don’t you think you have been benefitted by Prakash Singhji’s name because he is respected. His son would have been benefitted by his goodwill.
SSB: Too much, for the first time. It happens the first time, not the second time, not the third time. Because the first time, votes can be garnered on the name of the father, there are many leaders in the country, who get launched.
PC: There is Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav, Omar Abdullah,
SSB: One time a person can be launched in the name of his father. There are thousands of children of politicians who fade out. Second and third time votes are garnered on the basis of performance. If he will perform he will exist, if he does not, he will fade away.
PC: Like you came to power because of the family name. Amrinder Singh, who is in opposition, gave a memorandum, that your assets increased by Rs. 50 lakh per month between 2009 and 2011, you earlier declared 57 crore now you’re declared Rs. 74 crore. He means to say have you made this amount of money through being in power.
SSB: This is stated in our income tax return. There is no black money in income tax return. Capt. Amrinder Singh does not know what is stated in an income tax return. In the income tax return, the property which we declared in 2007, is the same which we declared in 2011, but its market value has increased. This he does not know. What did he do, did you see his statement.
PC: No, I didn’t.
SSB: He said that he Patiala palace in which he stays, he declared its value to be Rs. 2 crore.
PC: He didn’t declare market value
SSB: We declare as per law, we are law abiding. Every year when the market value increase, we have to increase the value in property tax return.
PC: So do you want to say that Amrinder Singh does not know accounts.
SSB: I am saying that he has talked about Rs. 2 crore (valuation of Patiala palace). Am saying, the Punjab government will give him Rs. 10 crore and will take the palace, if it wants to. Hence, this politics of lies, will not work here. You know that last time he had raised an issue that Badal saab has a property worth Rs. 3500 crore. Night club, sheep farms, and he said that we had property in every corner of the world. When he was in power for five years, he did not work for Punjab’s development, which was finished .Capt. Amrinder Singh had one agenda, that he has to prove the list that he had issued against Badal saab. After five years, the charge sheet was filed against us, he reduced the amount from Rs 3500 crore to Rs. 76 crore. Even that was overinflated, the case went before the courts, and were acquitted. Amrinder Singh’s politics is throw mud on the wall, something will stick.
PC: He says that do you want to choose a chief minister who is 90 years old or a young chief minister, he considers himself young.
SSB: I am surprised that Amrinder Singh considers himself young. When does get up in the morning, at 11 am. In the evening at 5 pm, everybody knows what he does. Sahab Prakash Singh Badal, whom he is saying 90 years old, gets up at 5 am in the morning, then till 10 pm to 11 pm he is in some village, some city or in office. Who is young, a man who works 18 hours or a man who works for six hours. And the second point, we have a combination, Sahab Prakash Singh Badal is 90 years they say, I am 50 years old, and I am deputy chief minister, hence Punjab has got both young and experienced.
PC: Hence, Amrinder Singh is challenging you, because votes are polled in his name, he is a brand like Badal sahab.
SSB: One thing should be asked to Amrinder Singh, he was in opposition for the past five years, where was he for 4.5 years, he wasn’t seen in Punjab. He is a non resident Punjabi, most of the time, he is not in Punjab.
PC: You talked of development, road development, but even then there was power shortage in Punjab recently. Tell one development which led to per capita income improvement or the per capita power consumption increased, people say law and order is an issue, extremism has come again.
SSB: There were two governments, from 2002 to 2007 of Capt .Amrinder Singh and from 2007 to 2012 of Sahab Prakash Singh Badal. Total revenue generation of Punjab government from 2002 to 2007, during Capt. Amrinder Singh’s tenure was Rs. 35,000 crores. Our from 2007 to 2012 is Rs. 76,000 crore, which is double revenue generation. Secondly, they talk of power..
PC: How much debt are you in
SSB: Debt per GSTP ratio, when our government came into power, it was 46 per cent, debt to GSTP ratio, we got it down today to 30 per cent. Government of India’s debt to GSTP ratio is 51 per cent. We have improved in every indicator. Fisical deficit, revenue deficit in all these parameters, let me tell you one big thing, you are talking of power, it is not something that you can import from Europe or America.
PC: You get it on the line
SSB: There is power shortage all over India. We did a big thing, that we started construction of power plants. Total power generation in Punjab was 5000 MW when we came to power, then the demand was 9000 MW and shortage of nearly 50 per cent. We have initiated 8000 MW power projects, which are under construction and did long term contracts for the rest 3500 MW.
PC: What is your demand now
SSB: From next year, our power projects will start getting completed. Hence, from next year, Punjab will be the first state in the country, which will be a power surplus state, and we will sell this power to other states, like we do with wheat and rice.
PC: The issue is that no new industry is set up in Punjab. In the past five years, no new big industry was set up.
SSB: Industry has come
PC: Which, tell me
PC: It is a Govt. of India proposal which was on for a long time. Did the brand which has been formed be senior and junior Badal get some new industry in Punjab.
SSB: Where does industry come, where they are incentivised, what did the government of India do to Punjab? Our state is a land locked state, one side is Pakistan, other side is Jammu and Kashmir, which are disturbed states. Besides this are hill states, now all hill states have been declared as special economic zones (SEZ), we have become an island and our industry has started shifting. We wrote to the Govt. of India that you cannot create an island out of Punjab. Secondly, the package that has been given to Jammu and Kashmir because of terrorism, we as a border state face a maximum amount of terrorism. So, we should be included in the package. The reason is that they (central government) don’t listen to us. They created as island. Now we thought how to incentivise to encourage setting up of new industries, we said that because we are landlocked, the only way to connect Punjab to the rest of the world is by getting international airports, make Punjab power surplus, build expressways, get the best infrastructure. Hence for five years we focussed on infrastructure, and that is the reason investment has started coming to Punjab.
PC: You say that central government is responsible. You had good relations with the Prime Minister, sometimes you say that he is a good Prime Minister, you and your father both said. Why isn’t the Prime Minister helping you?
SSB: Prime Minister is a good human being, but he has his compulsions, political compulsions. He is controlled by 10 Janpath, Sonia Gandhi. Let me give you one small example, for world Sikh heritage we made one complex at Anantpur Sahib, we requested the Prime Minister for do the inauguration, it is a small thing. Capt. Amrinder Singh told Sonia Gandhi that Prime Minister cannot come. Sonia Gandhi controls what happens in the central government. Actually, Prime Minister is Sonia Gandhi.
PC: Not Manmohan Singh
SSB: Not Sardar Manmohan Singh. Because Sonia Gandhi dictates, he is a very good hearted man, but he cannot do anything. Sonia Gandhi decided on everything.
PC: Manmohan Singh is associated with Punjab, is a Punjabi, the first Sikh Prime Minister, is an economist, you think he fears association only by the instance that he did not come to Anantpur Sahib
SSB: I gave an example of Anantpur Sahib that at this level Congress party in Punjab and Sonia Gandhi interferes. It is the duty of the Prime Minister, that if there is a function in any state and he is invited, he comes. In these small things, Congress party has started controlling. With this small example you will understand, that how poorly he is being..
PC: He is a poor Prime Minister
SSB: He is not poor, he is a good man. But he has not got a free hand.
PC: A remote control
PC: There is one thing, let me go back to Punjab, there is a charge of black money against you, I read in papers that you are misusing government machinery, in allocation of money to intelligence agencies, people are being caught
SSB: Has even one rupee been seized. Amrinder Singh’s politics is dependent on accusation, like he did of Rs. 3500 crores, but nothing came out of it. Like now he did again, because there is so much frustration in him because his Congress party has disintegrated. Today in Punjab, a parallel Congress has come up, which is fighting elections, which is named Azad Congress. Ask any member of Azad Congress, who are ex ministers and MLA’s of Congress, why did they become Azad, there is only one talk that Congress party high command has taken money to give tickets. The party which will take money from its own worker to issue tickets, if it is given an opportunity to run the government, what will it do. His change against us is to divert attention. Against them there are reports in newspapers everyday that they are taking money to issue tickets.
PC: Both sides are taking defectors.
SSB: Our sahab did not gave ticket to even one defector, not even one, not even one.
PC: People who left Congress were given tickets by you.
SSB: Not even one, not even one, you give example, not even one. There are other parties like peoples party of Punjab (PPP), they opened an office in Punjab saying that they have a vacancy for anyone who does not get a ticket.
PC: But there was a division even in your own party, your big minister left the party, he formed his own Dal. Hence you also don’t tolerate anyone else (in your party)
SSB: He started anti party activity. He knowledge was being used against the interest of the party, against the policies of the party, if anyone gives statement against the party, this is a matter of discipline, no party will accept. Even in your newspaper, if any employee goes against your policy, you will fire him.
PC: One bad thing that has been witnessed during your government, it has been reported in newspapers, in the past five years that some amount of terrorism has come back. There have been reports that old extremists are reviving once again. Are they doing so because of your sympathy, or is your vigilance or your policies weak.
SSB: What you are saying is right, that there have been reports of terrorism in newspapers. The news that has been printed is that we have caught those people. Government of India does not know anything till the blasts happened in Mumbai. In the past five years has any blast any incident happened in Punjab. Has there been even one incident in Punjab. Our police is so vigilant, we are seized RDS, weapons, caught terrorists, we are so vigilant..
PC: They are raising their head again.
SSB: We have a border with Pakistan, it regularly wants that there should be disturbance in India, in Jammu and Kashmir, in Punjab and in different corners of the country. But we are the only state, our police is so intelligent, working in a professional way, hence we identify them before they can act. Unlike the Govt. of India
PC: The wrongful aims of Pakistan government, to create disturbance in Punjab, you claim to have failed that.
SSB: Clearly, and we guarantee that in no way will we allow terrorism to come up in Punjab.
PC: What is the reason for terrorism cropping up.
SSB: Complete Pakistan,
PC: Or because the incomes of the farmer are not increasing
SSB: This is certainly Pakistan sponsored.
PC: There are reasons like youth unemployment
SSB: No,no,no this all is Pakistan sponsored.
PC: Let me ask you a last question, you father senior Prakashsinghji, he made Punjab go ahead, and now you have come, so after elections will you replace him as chief minister.
SSB: No. Four five years ago, every two months media used to announce that Sukhbir Singh Badal will become chief minister. He will be on Diwali, New Years, after Baisakhi. I said on Day one that Sahab Prakash Singh Badal is the tallest leader of the state and of the country, he has vast experience, we want to use his experience, Punjab needs his experience. That is the reason, I said it on day one, and this time also, I as president announced, otherwise media speculation would have started, that Sahab Prakash Singh Badal will become chief minister.
PC: You will want and experienced person, but don’t you think that he should take a back seat and guide you, also because 70 per cent of the people are less than 35 years old, they will also want you to come ahead,
SSB: I am the deputy chief minister, I am the president of the party, so I am being guided by him, and it is an experience working with him. I came to state politics for the first time, I became state deputy chief minister, and because of his guidance I gained such an experience of administration which is amazing. And till the time he is fit, and god willing he will be fit for a long time, we want, our party wants, personally I want, that we want to take advantage of his experience.
PC: Because the condition of the BJP is bad there, don’t you think there they have become a liability for you.
SSB: We have an emotional relational with BJP, not political, this is the first point. It is a media created impression, that the BJP position is down, you will see the results. Coming 30th voting will be done, on 6th results will be announced, BJP is going to perform excellently.
PC: Earlier also they had 100 per cent strike rate
SSB: I am not saying that they should give 19 out of 23. One or two seats can be less, but the condition is not so poor as the media is projecting.
PC: Will your combine will get more or less seats as compared to last time. Do a speculation.
SSB: You will not believe me, this time you will say this is a political statement.
PC: Not political, tell the speculation.
SSB: I am clearly saying that we will cross 80.
SSB: We will cross 80 seats.
PC: Last question, if you lose this election somehow, will this loss be attributable to Sukhbir Singh Badal or Prakash Singh Badal.
SSB: We will not lose.
PC: It is an academic question.
SSB: Am saying that, this is the first time that we are doing performance based politics and going among the people.
PC: Who will get credit/crown for the win.
SSB: The credit/crown for the win will go to Prakash Singh Badal.
PC: And you for losing.
SSB: That you give to whomsoever you want.
PC: Our good wishes are with you, thank you for coming to our studio.
SSB: Thank You, Prabhuji !