“Whoever Bjp Projects As Prime Minister Candidate, Akali Dal Will Support Him” – Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa MP, Rajya Sabha, Shiromani Akali Dal
Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, MP, Rajya Sabha, Shiromani Akali Dal, in an exclusive interview to Deepak Kumar Rath, Editor, and Srikant Sharma, Executive Editor, speaks on different issues related to his party. Excerpts:
Being an oldest ally of BJP, what is your opinion on the recent break-up between JD(U) and BJP?
See, our relation with BJP is very old. We were there with them when it was Jan Sangh, and we are still with them, when it is BJP. So it does not matter to us if anybody comes or leaves BJP. We will be there in NDA.
Will you condemn the recent attack on BJP by Nitish Kumar?
Nitish Kumar was with us for a long period. He shouldn’t have reacted like that. During Vajpayee government, he was a senior minister, but then he couldn’t see the communalism of BJP. Also, reacting like that on the behest of Congress, is not a good example.
What do you think about the slogan ”Nayi soch, nayi ummeed” given by the BJP’s Election Campaign Committee Chief Narendra Modi?
We have already made it clear that, we will be with BJP on whatever decision it takes. To whom it projects is its internal matter, we can’t comment upon that. But, it is clear that we are with BJP, on all its decisions.
Narendra Modi’s image is of a ’hardliner’. Do you think that this image will have an impact on the prospects of NDA?
Even L.K. Advani’s image was portrayed like that earlier, but it did not have any impact on NDA. This image of Narendra Modi will also change, when he will come onto national level politics. He will change himself, according to the needs of the hour.
What kind of change would you like to see in Narendra Modi?
Narendra Modi needs to bring a change in his portrayed image. I think, he will find a way.
If BJP projects Narendra Modi as prime ministerial candidate, will the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), support him?
We have already said that, whoever BJP projects, we will support him.
There is a growing discontent among the ground-level workers of BJP in Punjab. They allege that SAD has dominated the urban centres and BJP has shrunk to rural areas. What will you say about these allegations?
I don’t think there is any discontent. All the departments including Urban Development Department, health, local bodies and other departments are with them. Mr. Badal has always taken BJP into confidence on everything and I don’t think there is any discontent between us in Punjab.
There are news reports that you are using your intelligence agency for promoting SAD in Delhi?
No, there is no involvement of intelligence agency in these things. Every party wants to make its organisation stronger. We are not just spreading ourselves in Delhi only. We want to expand our organisation in Haryana, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh too. We will like to contest in coming assembly elections in Delhi. We also have five-four councilors in Delhi. So, it is quite natural that, we are spreading our base.
What are the issues for the 2014 general elections?
The most important issue will be corruption and wrong policies of this UPA government. There is not a single aspect, where their policies have been correct, be it Kashmir issue, or recent Jammu incident. Foreign policy is a total failure. We say that Dr. Manmohan Singh is a great economist, but our economy is falling apart. Devaluation of money is an issue. There is no development and no policy for it. They work on a policy that if you toe our line, then only, we will give you central assistance. This was very much clear in recent Nitish incident. Is this a policy process of a central government?
Kashmir is burning and Pakistan has been aggressive for the last six months. Being a political party, what will you suggest to the Central government?
Not only Kashmir, the whole country is facing such situation. We have to deal with this situation with an iron hand but Central government is a total failure on this front.
What will you say on increasing prices of commodities and how can we stop price rise and devaluation of money?
Only economists can tell you how to stop these things, but I can say only one thing that we have such a great economist as a Prime Minister, still we are facing these conditions in our country.
These days, policies of government, either UPA or NDA, are increasingly being seen as policy of appeasement. Creating divide between Hindus and Muslims is becoming a practice these days for votes. What do you think about the impact this policy will have on the future of the country?
When Vajpayeeji was in government, he never tried to differentiate between people on the pretext of caste and religion. But this government is doing such things and this is hampering our social harmony.
The condition of Jammu and Kashmir is worsening day by day. Like Kashmiri Pundits, Hindus in Jammu are being threatened… What will you say on that?
This shows the laxity in government policy. This is responsibility of the government to take strict action against this kind of activities.
What should be the government stand on infiltration, killing of soldiers and Pakistan-sponsored terrorism? Should the government take direct action or should we have talks with them?
These activities should be met with strict action. We know that in Pakistan, the army is all powerful. They don’t want peace between these two nations. Vajpayeeji took the the dialogue initiative, but Pakistan’s army attacked in Kargil. We know that Nawaz Sharif wants to have better relation with India but the army is the main obstacle. In my personal opinion, we should have dialogue with Pakistan on these issues.
But this is Pakistan’s internal problem that there is no co-ordination between the government and the army…
I believe that our army should give them a befitting reply, but, this is not right that we should stop talks with them. Till the normalisation of situation in Pakistan, we should stop talks but we should maintain our relation with them.
So, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should talk with his Pakistani counterpart in New York.
We have had talks with them after so many wars.
But there is huge opposition in the country and also the Opposition is against talks?
We need to have talks with them. Even while accusing them of killing our army men, we have to talk
Should Prime Minister meet with them or not?
Look, every problem is solved through talks. We had dialogue with them even after the Bangladesh war. Dialogue must go on. There should not be any hesitation in having talks with them.
Is the resignation of minister Kichloo, after the Kishtwar violence, enough, or Omar Abdullah government should take some more measures?
Omar Abdullah should take strict action against those who are responsible for the violence. This is the responsibility of the government. Only taking resignation is not enough, the government should take concrete measures to ensure peace in the Valley.
Recently, Omar Abdullah tweeted that in Jammu violence, two of the victims were Muslims and one was Hindu. Is he trying to tell people that Muslims are suffering more than Hindus in the Valley?
I don’t know why he said such things. I am not aware of the facts of the incident. Maybe he said those things to defend himself.
Will there be a change in seat distribution with BJP, or the pattern will be the same for the coming 2014 general elections?
The pattern will be the same. We always had the same arrangement in the seat sharing. BJP will also fight on the same pattern.
What do you think how many seats will you win in Punjab?
In the present scenario, we are confident that we will win all the 13 seats in Punjab.
Who will form the government in 2014?
It is definite that the NDA will form the government in 2014.
On what basis do you say that the NDA will form the government?
Every survey is saying that Congress will lose its seats and BJP will emerge as the single largest party. In every state there are two groups ,of which one will go with Congress and the other will go against it, so there are chances that even before elections, the NDA will get stronger and more parties will join it.
Do you think that there will be polarisation of votes due to Narendra Modi?
Congress is trying to project such things but there is nothing like polarisation of votes. People are confident that there will be improvement in the administration and it will work properly after Narendra Modi comes to power.
If Nitish Kumar supports Congress, is there any chance of Sharad Yadav joining NDA?
I can’t say anything now, but, anything is possible in politics. Could anybody have thought that Nitish will leave the NDA? That’s why I say anything is possible in politics.
Are there new parties joining the NDA?
Many will come in the NDA.
With whom are you in talks?
I don’t think that these things should be discussed in media. Many a time it happens that we try to forge alliances and the news get leaked in media and we have to stop such negotiations. But I can guarantee you that there will be many other parties who will contest the 2014 elections from the platform of the NDA.
So, there will be pre-poll and post-poll alliances.
Yes, we will have pre-poll and post-poll alliances.
Chief Minister Badal has promised to build a monument in remembrance of martyrs of the country. That project is still not completed.
Chief Minister Badal has allocated rs. 25 crore for “Amar Shahid Smriti” project. Many historians and architects are working on the project.
Excessive use of fertilizers in agriculture is leading to the problem of cancer in the state? What steps are you taking to curb this problem?
Yes it is true that we are facing this problem. Excessive use of fertilizers has contaminated the ground water. Due to this, there is a problem of drinking water. The government is working on this problem extensively from rural to urban areas. Special arrangement is being made to clear the sewers. Availability of drinking water is the prime focus. For curbing the problem of cancer in the state, we have invited TATA and many other hospitals, to set up their facilities in the state.
In the last 15-20 years, ground water level has gone down extensively. What step is your government taking in this regard?
What will our government do in this regard? For curbing this problem, we need to have diversification in crops. This diversification can be done only by the Central government. But the Central government has no policy in this regard. This problem is due to the Central government.
But, the state government also has some responsibility in this regard.
What can the state government do in this regard? The Central government has no policy in this regard, so what can we do.
The biggest problem of Punjab is the storage of grains. Production is ample in the state, but due to shortage of cold storages, these grains are being ruined in the open…
We are in talks with the Central government in this regard. We buy grains from farmers and give that to the Central government, but, it does not provide us with the storage facilities. Last year we made some storage facilities, but the Central government does not pay any heed to that. Grains are getting ruined in the open, but the
FCI does not take cognizance of the situation.
In Punjab, there is 60 per cent shortage of teachers in schools. It is a state subject. What are you doing in this regard?
Recently, we have recruited 56 thousand teachers and also we are trying to recruit 20-25 thousand more teachers, so that there is no shortage of teachers. At one point, Punjab was at the 13th place on education index, but we have brought it to number one position. You can the statistics.
Akali Dal is blamed for creating disruption in society.
Punjab is the most peaceful state. These are merely allegations.
You have nabbed smuggled drugs from Pakistan. Is your government active on the matter of internal security?
We have taken strict action on this matter. The number of smuggled drugs we have nabbed, nobody else could do it. But we came to know that there is a tacit understanding between a section of the BSF and smugglers and they allow these activities in the border areas.
Being a border state, security is Centre’s responsibility, but you also have your police…..
The Punjab police is doing its work. Recently we seized smuggled goods of crores in worth. Also, we arrested few people related to this drugs business.
What is the co-ordination level between the Punjab police and the Central government?
There is a good co-ordination between the Punjab police and the Central government. Our police meets with high officials of Central forces on a regular basis.