‘I’ve confined ruling Badals to two seats,am campaigning in all’

Manpreet Badal discusses his party and its prospects with Sukhdeep Kaur

Written by Sukhdeep Kaur | Published: January 23, 2012 3:29:25 am

Sanjha Morcha,your front with the Left,has fielded candidates in all seats. Could focusing on fewer seats have been a better strategy?

We have to open our register in all 117 seats. We need to be recognised in all of them to be able to garner support at the grassroots level. It is an epic struggle and because it is difficult,it is big.

Most of the candidates fielded by your PPP are first-timers,with no experience in politics. Will they be able to get votes?

In my list of 91 candidates,73 per cent are graduates and 56 per cent are below the age of 50. It is a party of people who are young,educated and have a clean slate. About 90 per cent have never fought an election. It is these kind of people that Punjab needs for cleaning its politics. As for winning,look at the history of many new parties in India — and even in Pakistan,where Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaaf in all likelihood will form the government.

But the list also includes some habitual turncoats and defectors…

I have tried my best but I am a part of the political system. As for defectors,there are only five to six former Akali Dal or Congress leaders who were deserving but being ignored by their parties. But they have considerable influence in their respective areas. Some like Bir Devinder (former Assembly deputy speaker who has been fielded from Mohali) are local to the area. So they were roped in on the basis of electoral advantage.

Gidderbaha has elected you four times,but you also decided to contest from Maur in Bathinda. Were you unsure?

My decision to also contest from Maur was part of the poll strategy as the ruling family would have tried in all possible ways to defeat me from Gidderbaha. Maur is a surefire seat. But had I been unsure of Gidderbaha,I would not have been touring the state but would have stayed put there. In fact,it is Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who is camping in Lambi since January 2 as he is scared of losing his deposit against my father (Gurdas Badal). I have confined the ruling Badals to two seats while I am campaigning in all 117.

But your father is said to be in poor health and has not launched a major campaign like the ruling Badals.

My father is fit and he is going door to door to meet people. His work in the area is not about a day or a month but about decades. He has been with the people of the area in times of sickness,marriage,death and birth.

In which seats do you think you are looking good?

In 40-odd seats,we are looking very good. Starting from Lambi,Gidderbaha,Maur to Amargarh,Dakha,Budhlada,Dirba,Shutrana,Bathinda rural,Jagraon,Payal,Khanna,Mehel Kalan,Balachaur,Sham Chaurasi,Muktsar,Talwandi Sabo,Sardulgarh,Mansa,Lehra,Sangrur,Shutrana and Dhuri.

You claim to be the only party that has an agenda for Punjab.

We are the only ones to have laid out an agenda for the first 100 days on coming to power. Look at the Akalis and Congress,they have no agenda for the state. We have promised 20 policy decisions such as bringing the CM under the Lokpal,declaration of assets of IAS,IPS officers… Other parties are copying our items.

In contrast to the Akali Dal and the Congress,you are not spending on advertisements. You are also issuing appeals to people to donate.

We are not a party controlling land,sand,transport and cable businesses,nor do we boast candidates who have accumulated assets worth crores through power. So we have asked people to donate to us. As for ads,I see them as wasteful expenditure.

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