The New Indian Express Editorial Director Prabhu Chawla interviewed Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal for Teekhi Baat on IBN 7. With three weeks to go for the polls, he spoke on family politics, the ‘Badal’ brandname, Akali Dal’s relationship with the Congress and the Prime Minister, allegations about personal assets, state of industry in Punjab and the Akali Dal’s future. Excerpts:
What have you done?
Expressways, power projects, Right to Service Act: development is our agenda. We’ve asked people to compare our performance with that of the Congress.
Is SAD a family fiefdom?
Which party doesn’t run on family name: Jayalalithaa, Congress? Akali Dal is not parivaarvadi, it’s the party with Master Tara Singh, Sant Fateh Singh, Longwaal Saab, Tilwani Saab, my father (Parkash Singh Badal) as former presidents. Unlike the Gandhi family, our party committee decided my appointment
Is Badal a poll brandname?
My father is a brand in Punjab after a lifetime in public service. And he takes decisions by sitting with people.
17 Badals in Punjab politics.
I joined politics 20 years ago—started as a worker, rose to become an MP, Union minister, Rajya Sabha member—fought, won & lost Lok Sabha polls. You can canvass for votes on your father’s name once, not after that.
Your assets increased by Rs 50 lakh per month during 2009-11, says Amarinder.
There’s no black money in IT return that I’ve submitted. Our 2011 assets is the same as 2007, but its market value has gone up.
Are you saying Amarinder doesn’t know accounting?
All I’m saying is, he’s submitted Rs 2 crore as value of the Patiala palace where he lives. Will he hand it over to the Punjab govt. if we give him Rs 10 crore? Politics of lies won’t work here. When he was in power, he didn’t work for Punjab’s development. Capt. Singh has one agenda—throw mud on the wall, hoping something will stick. Five years after his chargesheet, he has now reduced Parkash Saab’s value from Rs 3,500 to Rs 76 crore.
He thinks he’s young compared to your father?
When does Amarinder wake up every morning—11 am? Everybody knows what he does after 5 pm. My father, whom he considers old at 90, gets up at 5 am and is visiting some village, city or office till 10-11 pm.
Any projects that led to rise in per capita income, improved law and order, reduced extremism?
Revenue generation of Punjab during Amarinder’s tenure (2002-7) was Rs 35,000 crore. During our reign (2007-12) it is Rs 76,000 crore—double!
What about Punjab’s debt?
When we came to power, debt-to-GSTP-ratio was 46 per cent, it’s now 30 per cent. GoI’s debt-to-GSTP-ratio is 51 per cent. We have improved in every indicator: fiscal deficit, revenue deficit. As for power, you can’t import it from Europe or America.
You had good relations with the PM. Why isn’t he helping you with industry?
The PM is a good human being, but he’s controlled by Sonia. We asked him to inagurate the Anandpur Sahib Sikh heritage complex, but Amarinder told Sonia and Manmohan said he can’t come. Sonia controls what happens in the Centre. Actually, the Prime Minister is Sonia Gandhi.