Interview: Anti-incumbency is when you don’t perform, no one says we haven’t, says Sukhbir Singh Badal

Punjab Deputy CM discusses rush of new projects, social media and polls with The Indian Express.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Updated: January 12, 2017 12:15:58 pm
Sukhbir Singh Badal , punjab elections, anti incymbency, sad, new projects, new project rushm punjab new projects, road, infrastructure projects, congress, election campaign, election vote ban, nabha jail, water bus, harsimrat kaur, indian express news, india news Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal in the amphibious ‘water’ bus at Hari-ke-Pattan, one of several new projects launched before the model code kicked in. Source: Rana Simranjit Singh

How different is this election for SAD from the last one?

That was one to one. Now there are a lot of different parties.

Do you think it is tougher this time, especially after 10-years of anti-incumbency?

Anti incumbency happens when you don’t perform. No person has ever said that we have not performed [and that] we have not done development. Congress, they have not been able to say we have not done development. Neither has AAP come on specifics we have not done this, we have not done that.

So, you think there is no anti-incumbency?

I don’t think so. It may have been there against some [MLAs] and we have changed a lot of candidates.

SAD says that it is SAD versus Congress. Why then do you target AAP more?

Because they are giving us more issues to attack. Now if somebody from AAP speaks about the party’s chief ministerial face, obviously we will venture into that. Media also asks more about AAP. They ask because a new [player] is there. So we have to reply.

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Doesn’t populist politics, with freebies doled out liberally, affect fiscal health?

See, what happens is that government’s job is not to just make profit. We improved the revenue and put that revenue into infrastructure.

But well-off people too manage to get the subsidies.

You see, there is industry that gets so much of subsidies and who are making billions. These are certain policies for a certain sector. Subsidies in agriculture are to save agriculture, we are providing power at Rs 5 to new units. You will say that is another subsidy. What happens is that the new units would come up and there would be jobs. There is this cycle which takes place. So, we have to balance between subsidy and infrastructure and we have done a wonderful job in the last 10 years. We built the infrastructure and we kept offering subsidies also.

There are certain things people are questioning, such as the amphibious bus project at Hari-ke-Pattan.

What is tourism? What is a hotel? We should not build a hotel because that is only for the rich people? I could have done without the Darbar Sahib complex. We were surviving before that too, so why waste money on that? What is tourism, why was this amphibious bus launched in Goa, Dubai or in London? See, these are tourist attractions. Tourism is the biggest job creator… Hari-ke is the biggest bird sanctuary. People will come there from all over the world.

In social media, the project has been widely mocked.

Social media is created by 10 people sitting in a room… just to do negative [propaganda]

Akali Dal too has such teams?

Everyone has. What appears there is not a true reflection. Social media is an unguided missile because it is not under anybody’s control. So, it is the best way to blast without any saying who is behind it.

There have been incidents of sacrilege, Chand Kaur murder, Jagdish Gagneja murder… Why was the government unable to solve so many cases?

Certain cases sometimes become difficult to solve as leads keep on coming… We have given the sacrilege case to CBI… If the CBI cannot do [solve] it in one year, why blame the Punjab government?

There was this audacious attack on Nabha jail.

In America, which is the most effective state, people are shooting in malls. So, will you will say the America government is not providing proper security? These unfortunate incidents happen in day-to-day life. In other states you cannot travel at night. Overall, look at the national crime rate… Punjab is the safest place among all states.

Opposition parties often say you have a monopoly on all prominent sectors of business, transport for example.

You will say Indigo is monopolising airlines. That means Indigo should be stopped, Air India should be given [all rights to operate]. Is Air India giving better services or Indigo? Or do you want to go to the bad days of communism where everything is nationalised?… If out of 10,000 buses, the Badal family operates 100, is it monopolisation?… If a road connects New Chandigarh to Mohali, do you think it is because of connecting an international airport to my hotel? That road goes to Delhi also. So that means I have connected Delhi also to my hotel. This clearly shows frustration.

There is a controversy over your Sukhvilas Resort too.

If instead of me it was some Tatas investing in Punjab, what will you say? Have I broken any law? I am investing only. I have invested in the economy of Punjab only… Everyone has scrutinised every document of mine. I have not violated any rules. There is no conflict of interest… You should be happy that there is a politician who does everything in open. Koyee benami nahi e (It is not benami).

When will you take command as CM?

I am the president of the party, which is the command. The president is more powerful than the CM. The CM of a party is nothing compared to the president.

Is there a likelihood of Harsimrat Kaur Badal entering state politics?


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