In the first open attack by a senior BJP leader against erstwhile ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Tarun Chugh, the newly-appointed National General Secretary of BJP, speaking to The Indian Express, attacks father-son duo of Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal as well as the Congress over recent developments pertaining to the farmers’ agitation:
Why is it that BJP could not anticipate the intensity of the farmers’ protests in Punjab?
It is not a simple question of farmers being annoyed. The reality is that the government of Capt Amarinder Singh was in a state of ‘countdown’. They needed something for survival and it is an old track record of Capt Amarinder Singh that he is the king of politics of lies. He saw that he was unable to fulfil even one promise of his election manifesto, the most important of which were waiving farm loans worth Rs 90,000 crore, giving compensation per acre, job for every home and distributing mobile phones to youth. He could not fulfill even one of these promises. Thus they took refuge behind these protests.
The Congress has no answer to the question as to why was there mention of these Acts in their manifesto. In 2009 it was their government which had held the farmers summit it as announced that these reforms would be made. Amarinder knew that his government had failed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made the firm promise of doubling the farmers’ income. Congress was looking for an excuse to do something which would help them regain their lost political ground and thus they started organising these farmers’ protests.
But the Congress claims it has received great response from farmers for the road shows held with Rahul Gandhi.
Their roadshows have been a big flop. It looked like seven-star tourism. The entire atmosphere was seven-star. The chief minister stays in a seven-star farmhouse and has been under attack for being holed up there while there were poor arrangements to fight Covid in Punjab. They have used farmers politically. Rahul’s visit will have no effect whatsoever. No one takes Rahul Gandhi seriously in Punjab. Whenever there has been any problem in Punjab, neither ‘Pappu’ nor ‘Pinki’ have come here. More than 100 people died due to the hooch tragedy but neither of them bothered to come to Punjab. Capt Amarinder should forget these stunts and just answer one question, when is he going to fulfil the promise of full farm loan waiver which he had made in election rallies now that his government is more than three and a half years in office? Now he has brought farmers on railway tracks.
Capt Amarinder should also answer questions on the culpability of Congress leaders in the 1984 massacre of Sikhs. It is 36 years since 1984. We came to power in 2014 and after 30 years an SIT was made by us and today Sajjan Kumar is in jail. Before going to jail he had been fighting elections with Congress and even in jail he is a Congress worker. Why has he not been thrown out of Congress yet? Why has no action been taken against Kamal Nath who has been identified by eyewitnesses as leading a mob. He was made a CM. Capt Amarinder is moving about with ‘Pappu’ whose forefathers were part of the conspiracy to put burning tyres on the necks of Sikhs. Those who burnt gurdwaras of Sikhs and their educational institutions are sitting next to him. Congress has not only protected the killers of Sikhs for 36 years, but has given them promotions within the party and government. Capt Saab what is your stand about the Gandhis protecting these killers? Sunil Jakhar is the state Congress president whose father Balram Jakhar had made murderous comments about Sikhs proceeding to Delhi in 1984.
What happened all of a sudden that the entire top Akali leadership including Parkash Singh Badal, Sukhbir and Harsimrat made a U-turn on agriculture Bills?
Sukhbir Singh Badal today says Akalis were not consulted in the past six years in government. I just want to ask Sukhbir one thing. On May 26, 2014, you proposed your wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal’s name to the Union government saying that she will be the Akali representative in government. For six years we took every decision by taking her into confidence. Every decision was taken in Cabinet meeting and in every meeting my elder sister Harsimrat Kaur Badal was present. Did she not tell you what decision was taken in the meeting or do you lack the guts to ask her what the decision was? It is a matter between husband and wife. It is not a political matter. The reality is that she was part of every decision and so was the Shiromani Akali Dal. Because today you have decided to go your own separate ways that is why you are now finding faults.
Sukhbir is now making accusations that corporate houses are running the central government. When the NDA asked you to give a name for berth in the Union Cabinet then why did you not name farmers like Prem Singh Chandumajra, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa or Balwinder Singh Bhunder? You disregarded your senior farmer leadership and named a daughter of corporate house Harsimrat Kaur Badal. She is a director in many companies. She is my elder sister and it is not a crime being from a corporate house but those who are making accusations at us should first introspect.
Coming to Parkash Singh Badal ji, he has now said that BJP has hit at the federal structure of the country and that Punjab Governor should have gone barefoot to receive memorandum from protesting Akalis at the Chandigarh border last week. He has used the words ‘black day of democracy’. I want to tell him that it is a black day of democracy when you take decisions inside in consensus and then come out and tell falsehoods to people. I want to tell Badal saab with foldeds hands that he should not get into this matter. The PM respects him a lot. If you are talking about going barefoot then why did you not go to Behbal Kalan even wearing shoes leave alone going barefoot? Today you are making all sorts of statements.
Do you feel that in hindsight it was a wrong decision to let Navjot Singh Sidhu leave the party, given that he too was asking for separation from Akalis?
Today Sidhu is going about preparing for his coronation and you are asking me about him and BJP. Every 15 or 30 days Bibi Navjot Kaur Sidhu issues a press release that they want to join BJP. We have never asked her to come to BJP. Theirs is an internal matter of Congress. Congress can make them CM or deputy CM we have nothing to do with it. What we want to know as citizens of Punjab is that Sidhu had famously asked ‘Who is Captain’. Is Capt Amarinder now the Captain of Sidhu? Has Captain accepted Sidhu as his Captain? Or is Sidhu now Captain of Congress in Punjab? Congress high command has to answer this. The ball is between Navjot Singh Sidhu, Harish Rawat and Capt Amarinder Singh.
How do you think this stand-off with farmers will be resolved by Centre? There is intense anger against BJP among farmers.
People who are angry with us are not our enemies. They are our brothers and every farmer who opposes me or the party is our God. Modi ji calls farmer God because he feeds 130 crore people. We will talk to them and make them understand every clause of the Act. We will go and talk to them on railway tracks also. BJP has asked the farmers to choose a committee which will be taken by us to Delhi to meet ministers and officials to clear their doubts and questions.
It is better you call a special session of the state Assembly to repeal the amendments made by you in the APMC Act in 2017 as well as bring in new legislation to make the entire state a single ‘mandi’. The very fact that you are running away from doing this and indulging in skulduggery with farmers by stating that they will now have to wait for Rahul Gandhi to become Prime Minister before the agriculture Acts will be repealed indicates that you have no intention of revoking the Acts
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines