Punjab 2017

I challenge Kejriwal to fight polls against Bikram: Harsimrat Badal

Harsimrat Kaur Badal. File photo   | Photo Credit: PTI

Union Food Processing Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal is a Shiromani Akali Dal leader and wife of Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal. Nistula Hebbar catches up with her in her Lok Sabha constituency, Bhatinda, and asks her a few questions on the Assembly polls in Punjab.

Analysts say the only certainty about the Punjab elections is the heavy anti-incumbency factor against the Akali Dal.

Punjab has always had a revolving-door government, a pattern we broke in 2012. As far as this word “anti-incumbency” is concerned, it’s popular in the media to use against the government of the day. But our record in making transformational changes is there in the fields of power and roads, and other parties have had to acknowledge it too.

Actually, other parties have been blaming the SAD for letting in drug and other mafias into the State.

The claims about the proliferation of drugs is pure slander by both the Congress and the AAP. This was all started off by Rahul Gandhi, who claimed that 70% of Punjab’s youth is addicted to drugs. This is such an absurd claim ... If you go into a State and say that 70% of the young people are addicted to drugs. I mean you live in India, can any State have this situation? He was basically given a slip of the results of a research project undertaken by Guru Nanak Dev University where a Professor had done a survey in the rehab centre, which said that of the addicts in that centre, 70% were youth.

Now Mr. Gandhi, without going into details, just announced it and the media picked it up in a big way because it made for great headlines.

When there was a recent recruitment drive for the appointment to 7,000 posts in the police force and around four lakh youth applied, we decided to get this settled. We undertook the largest sample survey of drugs ever undertaken in the world, FDA-approved drug testing kits were imported, Baba Farid University undertook the testing and guess what the average figure of addiction was —1.26%, which is even less than the national average. The people of Punjab are going to react to this. Because of movies like Udta Punjab and both these parties, (Congress and AAP), the entire state continues to be slandered.

There have been allegations against your brother Bikram Singh Majithia.

If we were involved in drugs ourselves, would our government go ahead and catch a drug lord called Bhola?

The Punjab police went and caught him in another State. We demolished his entire set-up, we got his colleagues, then this fellow was interrogated by five Central agencies when there was a Congress government at the Centre, he went to the courts a dozen times and didn’t open his mouth till someone told him that now the noose is tightening around you, so you implicate someone in the family, you will be safe as the case could then linger. On the way out of court one day he tells the media, “I was doing it for Bikram.” Now someone who has never met Bikram in his life, never spoken to him, who has never had any transaction with him, his word has been bandied about as gospel.

This was hyped by [Congress State chief] Captain Amarinder Singh and the AAP, and the media has just lapped it up.

The fact of the matter is that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran produce 80% of the heroin in the world, ever since the US war in Afghanistan began, that route has become problematic and the Punjab border (which is the only ‘live border’ with Pakistan) started being used. It is the duty of the BSF to guard the order, and under the Congress government, I feel, it was left so porous  and so weak that all these drugs were coming in.

The Opposition has been taking the fight right into the SAD strongholds of Lambi and Jalalababad with Captain Amarinder Singh contesting from Lambi against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Bhagwant Mann challenging his son and your husband, Sukhbir Singh Badal.

I wish Arvind Kejriwal would decide to fight against Bikram. Why isn’t he? If Amarinder Singh is serious about fighting the Chief Minister, let him give up Patiala and fight from Lambi alone.

AAP is an unknown entity in these polls. What are your views on the challenge posed by the party?

As far as Punjab is concerned, our big worry is water. Arvind Kejriwal has filed in the court that the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal should be built and that Punjab’s water should come into Haryana and Delhi as well. He does not announce a chief ministerial candidate unlike in Goa where he has. My hunch is that just the way he made Manish Sisodia his deputy in Delhi, he has plans to make Sanjay Singh his deputy here as a rubber stamp, and himself go off campaigning for [the] 2019 [Lok Sabha polls]. When we talk of sacrilege (the desecration of the Guru Granth Sahib last year), this has never happened. No Punjabi would condone such sacrilege of the Granth Sahab, and therefore it had to be someone from outside. Mr Kejriwal is directly hobnobbing with radicals and moving around with Babbar Khalsa men.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 8:50:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/punjab-2017/I-challenge-Kejriwal-to-fight-polls-against-Bikram-Harsimrat-Badal/article17064007.ece

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