Updated: June 30, 2022 8:22:52 am
Dealing a stunning blow to the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Punjab, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president, Simranjit Singh Mann, emerged victorious in the recent bypoll in the Sangrur parliamentary constituency, vacated by Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, defeating AAP candidate Gurmail Singh by
5,822 votes. The 77-year-old SAD(A) founder and ex-IPS officer, Mann speaks to The Indian Express on various issues, including the factors responsible for his victory as well as his future plans.
How do you feel after winning the Sangrur bypoll? Whom would you give credit for this victory?
Subscriber Only Stories
The Punjabi and Sikh people feel secure and strong after bringing down (in this bypoll) all the national majoritarian political parties who are receiving commands from Delhi and who are unlawfully working against the interest of Punjabis and the minorities. I term this as Sikh revival and Punjabi peoples’ love for liberty and prosperity and for making Punjab a great state again. The people of Sangrur have made me proud with their mandate for my speaking against years of injustice and the Centre’s encroachment of powers that belong to the state, including the BSF’s illegal infiltration in Punjab.
How many Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha polls have you contested so far? What made you keep going despite the fact that people used to criticise you?
I have fought numerous elections and have faced defeat for many years. However, I have never accepted defeat. Our party fights for the Sikh people and all other communities that have been deprived of their rights and are subject to oppression by the majoritarian state. I pay no heed to frivolous criticism as my party stands firm on a set of principles, values and an ideology.
Soon after your victory, talks have started emerging that now extremist forces will become active again, what do you have to say about it?
Why must extremism, terrorism and radical forces be associated with a law-abiding citizen? I am a constitutionalist and a peaceful man and have only worked against oppression and for the people of our state.
How will you take people of all religions on board?
I stand with people from all walks of life irrespective of their caste or religion. I speak against any form of oppression or injustice. Instead, I would like to ask you, a journalist, about the creation of the Hindu Rashtra. The two Sikh representatives to the Constituent Assembly did not put their signatures to the Constitution of 1950. The Sikhs have an identity and do not want to be a part and parcel of the Hindu religion, which has been shoved down our throats through Article 25 of the Constitution. Why must the Sikhs or any other minority accept the formation of the Hindu Rashtra?
What do you have to say about SAD (Badal) as they claim to be a Panthic party with support of many Panthic organisations?
They’ve completely lost their Panthic veneer. People from across the state have outright rejected them and their policies. The Sikhs now completely disregard the Akali Dal (Badal) for having committed grave atrocities against the Sikh community and against farmers after merging with the RSS.
Do you think reforms are needed in SGPC now, any plans for that?
The SGPC constitutes the Sikh parliament. According to the SGPC Act, elections are to be held every 5 years. But it has now been 11 years since we’ve had elections to the SGPC, which means that it is now a lame duck parliament.
What will be your first priorities as Sangrur MP?
My priorities include the following: Recovery from economic slump; addressing poverty in our rural populace including farmers, farm labourers and traders, whose solution is opening borders to boost trade; restoring law and order in Sangrur and making people feel safe again; fight for Punjab’s water rights as per the riparian law, (setting up of) a university, and revival of respect for our Punjabi language, which is on the verge of being scrapped from high school education.
What factors, in your view, led the AAP to lose in their stronghold whom they used to call the AAP’s capital?
They’ve not done any work since their (Assembly election) victory. Their inexperience has been exposed by their failure to keep big promises. Law and order in the state remains perilous and AAP seems unable to guarantee public safety and crime-free neighbourhoods in Punjab today. This is all the result of Delhi ruling Punjab, because the ones who operate the AAP high command have zero understanding of Punjab on ground.
And what factors did play a role in your victory?
The peoples’ trust in our principles, our faith in our value system, and spreading our message about the fight for justice and delivering good governance to the poor.
📣 Join our Telegram channel (The Indian Express) for the latest news and updates
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.