Hitting back at Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal over his comments that BJP was trying to create a divide between Hindus and Sikhs in order to sabotage the farmers’ protest, BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh said the party had been protecting Hindu-Sikh unity even when Sukhbir was studying in the US during terrorism days and was absent from Punjab. He also questioned Sukhbir’s silence on communally inciting songs being sung by Punjabi singers.
Indian Express: SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal has said that BJP is trying to create a divide between Sikhs and Hindus in order to discredit the farmers’ protest. Your comments.
Tarun Chugh: It’s rubbish. Sukhbir Badal should know that BJP was at the forefront defending Punjabiyat and Hindu-Sikh unity when he was not even present in the state during the terrorism years and was away in the US for studies. BJP has always stood for Hindu-Sikh unity in Punjab and has tried to foster the brotherhood whenever there were signs of stress. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken special care to address the Sikh issues, be it providing succour to the 1984 riot victims, or opening of the Kartarpur Corridor, or lifting a ban on foreign donations made to the Golden Temple, and many more like that.
Sukhbir now talks about BJP harming the Muslims but where was their concern when they were sharing power with us? Never did they raise any such issue while in alliance with our party. Even with farmers Bill, they went on praising the ordinances and the Bills till the very last minute before doing a U-turn.
At a time when silver spades were distributed for digging SYL and the copies of the nation’s Constitution were burnt, the BJP made sure that bad blood did not spread in the society.
The BJP has always kept the Punjabi spirit of Hindu-Sikh unity alive even during the times when a massacre of Hindus was taking place in a planned manner.
The BJP stands for the Punjabiyat and will always stand for it.
On farmers’ front, the BJP is committed to doing everything for their welfare. The three farm laws are meant to double their income by 2022 because farmers had been reeling under heavy debts and have been taking to suicides in a big way. Sukhbir Badal is trying to play cheap politics by painting the BJP like that.
Even during the times of militancy in Punjab, the BJP made sure that the Hindu-Sikh relations did not suffer and the spirit of Punjabiyat was kept alive.
Now, when many Punjab singers are singing provocative and communally inciting songs targeting BJP and other communities, why is Sukhbir ji silent on them? Why has he failed to condemn them categorically?
Indian Express: The talks between Centre and farmers appear to be stalled over the demand for repeal of laws by the unions and the government’s offer of amendments. What is the solution?
Tarun Chugh: The Narendra Modi government has accepted all the demands raised by farmer leaders during their talks with the Union ministers. The issues like the MSP, mandis and civil suits are all adequately resolved to the farmers’ satisfaction.
The Centre is still open to talks on various clauses in the bills. We hope that farmers would soon withdraw their protest. And farmers have any doubts they are welcome for more talks with the Centre. We reassure farmers that the BJP would always protect their interests and work for empowering them.
Indian Express: Why does not the Centre withdraw the Bills as being demanded by farmers?
Tarun Chugh: There is no question of withdrawing the Bills, but yes, the government would like to address all fears about the Bills with farmers comprehensively. The government is prepared to discuss Bills clause by clause to convince farmers that their interest would be adequately protected in all situations.
AAP has alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh has been speaking the language of BJP after meeting Home Minister Amit Shah because he is facing ED cases and is under pressure. How do you respond?
The BJP has nothing to do with the ED case against the CM. It is a case of economic offence which the ED is addressing professionally. And how can one say that the Chief Minister is speaking the language of the BJP? It is preposterous and absurd. Moreover, the ED investigations have been going on since the UPA times.
But lately, the Punjab BJP too has been muted in its criticism of the Congress government in the state. Why is that so because till recently BJP was crying hoarse over attack on its party president and false cases against workers.
The BJP is taking note of various mafias operating in Punjab, be it that of liquor or sand or other acts of corruption by the Amarinder Singh government. It is just that the entire focus has been on resolving the farmers’ issue on priority. The BJP is loud and vocal as always against the Amarinder Singh government’s acts of corruption.
Congress’s failure to control drug mafias stands exposed. More than 125 cases of illegal sale of liquor registered in the state, gross embezzlement of the central funds in SC scholarship for students — all such cases are being highlighted by the BJP.
Indian Express: There are reports that the BJP plans to expand its presence in the state have stalled due to the protests of the farmers and the poor response the party is getting. Is that correct?
Tarun Chugh: The BJP has been contesting elections since 1952. Even in 1992 when it contested without an alliance with any other party, it polled 16.7 per cent votes which made it win 23 Assembly seats. The BJP is a firmly rooted party in Punjab.
The BJP’s base is in fact expanding because farmers who have been in distress understand that the three Bills would help improve their plight. Ever since the farmers’ agitation has started more than 3,000 persons from other political parties have joined the BJP. We are expanding our base steadily to contest from all the 117 Assembly seats and come victorious after the elections and form the government in Punjab.
Indian Express: Senior BJP leader and former Himachal CM Shanta Kumar says the farmers’ movement has been taken over by arhtiyas who are funding it along with ‘suspected’ NGOs. Is that a view held by the party too?
Tarun Chugh: This is his personal observation. The BJP, as a party, would hope that farmers would withdraw their protest soon after all their major demands have been conceded by the Centre. Moreover, farmers themselves have been expressing fear of outside elements gaining a foothold in their protest. Farmers fear that their protest might get hijacked by other people with vested interests.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines