‘Bargari up­surge shows ur­gency to de­liver jus­tice’

Hindustan Times (Chandigarh) - - HTPUNJAB -

Jus­tice de­liv­ery is not like fast food. Ac­tion will be taken even if there is po­lit­i­cal cost. We can’t leave this wound fes­ter­ing. ON TIME-FRAME FOR AC­TION No party pres­i­dent has en­joyed the kind of equa­tion I en­joy with the CM. He in­dulges me and is open to my sug­ges­tions. ON TIES WITH AMARINDER The Badals are not the Akali Dal. If a vote on most un­pop­u­lar per­sons of Pun­jab is held to­day, they will win hands down. ON SHIROMANI AKALI DAL

You seem to be re­flect­ing the ground sen­ti­ment. But are chief min­is­ter Capt Amarinder Singh and you on the same page on the is­sue?

My role is to be a bridge be­tween the party and the govern­ment. I can ex­press what should be done. The CM is well aware of the ground sen­ti­ment. It is just a mat­ter of when the ac­tion will be taken.

There is a per­cep­tion in your party that ac­tion against the Badals will back­fire po­lit­i­cally. What’s your take?

I will pitch for ac­tion against any­one who is a per­pe­tra­tor of this crime whether they have ac­tively par­tic­i­pated or not. I want to ex­pose how the Panth was used and abused by Sukhbir. We will be do­ing dis­ser­vice to the peo­ple of Pun­jab if we in­dulge in a po­lit­i­cal cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis on this is­sue. If we go by pub­lic sen­ti­ment, they (Badals) should be in jail as peo­ple are bay­ing for their blood.

Are you in favour of ac­tion against for­mer DGP Sumedh Singh Saini? Some feel it would demoralise the po­lice.

I’m in favour of ac­tion against any­body who or­dered the fir­ing, as long as it stands the scru­tiny of courts. The law does not work on pop­u­lar sen­ti­ment. If the SIT finds some­one guilty, they should face the mu­sic. It’s not a mat­ter of pop­u­lar per­cep­tion on how the ac­tion will im­pact po­lice morale. If there is cul­pa­bil­ity, then be it Saini, Badal or Sukhbir, no­body is above the law.

In the ini­tial days of the Bargari protests, your party was seen ro­manc­ing with rad­i­cals; a re­play of the tricks that the Congress played in the ’80s to checkmate the Akalis. The govern­ment woke up only last week.

The Congress is not dab­bling with rad­i­cals. Some Congress lead­ers were meet­ing them only to urge them to lift the dharna.

Hasn’t the sac­ri­lege is­sue over­shad­owed the gov­er­nance agenda and the prom­ises your party made?

Right now, it tops the agenda. Re­solv­ing this sit­u­a­tion will give time for other is­sues. This sit­u­a­tion has po­ten­tial to dis­turb law and or­der. We need to deal with this be­fore we move to the prom­ises.

How true is the per­cep­tion that you are not hav­ing your way with the chief min­is­ter?

It’s not about hav­ing my way. It

Why should the Congress that prides it­self as sec­u­lar be ob­sessed about the re­li­gious is­sue of sac­ri­lege?

This is­sue is not just about the Panth. It is about those who pro­jected them­selves as pro­tec­tors of faith but back­stabbed the faith. It’s an ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sue and a crim­i­nal act. We are try­ing to fix re­spon­si­bil­ity. Sac­ri­lege is a re­li­gious is­sue but do­ing jus­tice does not make our agenda Pan­thic.

Your strat­egy seems more against the Badals than the Akali Dal?

It’s only af­ter I spoke against Sukhbir that all these Tak­sali Akalis (old guard) came out against him. The Akal Takht par­don to Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim was or­dered by Sukhbir. Did he take per­mis­sion from Akal Takht to ne­go­ti­ate with the dera be­fore the par­don? As a Sikh and head of a Pan­thic party, Sukhbir is an­swer­able to the Akal Takht. But I have ev­ery right to ask the then home min­is­ter why

was peace in

Badals are syn­ony­mous with the Akali Dal. Doesn’t weak­en­ing mod­er­ate Akalis run the risk of bol­ster­ing rad­i­cals?

The Badals are not the Akali Dal. Sukhbir has made it Sukhbir Akali Dal. He has changed the very DNA of the party. It has been com­mer­cialised. The Akalis who shared stage with Sukhbir at Abo­har and other ral­lies were not Tak­sali Akalis. Sukhbir gave promi­nence to ‘ka­mau putts (earn­ing sons)’, the ones who were run­ning sand, liquor, drug and land mafia. The real Akali Dal will come out now. The idea is to save the Akali Dal from the Badals, par­tic­u­larly Sukhbir. I fore­see two things. First, as a last-ditch ef­fort, Badal saab will of­fer a red her­ring to pla­cate se­nior lead­ers by sidelin­ing Bikram Singh Ma­jithia. Sec­ond, he will take over the party’s reins even at this age. But Tak­sali lead­ers have seen through his game. If they have to save the Akali Dal, they have to res­cue it from Sukhbir.

The Akalis’ ac­cuse the Congress of try­ing to cap­ture the SGPC by prop­ping up rad­i­cals.

We are a sec­u­lar party and don’t in­ter­fere in re­li­gious is­sues. But we also have Sikhs in the Congress. Only the Badals be­lieve that any­one in the Congress is not a Sikh. But they are as much Sikhs as any­body else and have the right on the Shiromani Gur­d­wara Par­band­hak Com­mit­tee. The party will not dab­ble in gur­d­wara pol­i­tics. Sukhbir has cor­rupted the en­tire sys­tem. Peo­ple will dis­lodge the

Badals from the SGPC.

What is your take on rebel Aam Aadmi Party leader Sukh­pal Khaira’s at­tempts to pig­gy­back on the Bargari sen­ti­ment?

The Bargari mor­cha or­gan­is­ers have al­ready dis­as­so­ci­ated them­selves from Khaira and his 15-day ul­ti­ma­tum to the govern­ment. These kind of op­por­tunis­tic moves don’t lead any­where. The Bargari move­ment is a mat­ter of faith. They will see through any­one try­ing to cap­i­talise on it po­lit­i­cally.

How will you rate the govern­ment’s per­for­mance?

The big­gest hand­i­cap is the legacy of mind­set af­ter 10 years of Badal rule. The ad­min­is­tra­tion thinks the goven­ments run on whims and fan­cies. The mind­set of the bu­reau­cracy has to change. We are do­ing the best we can even with the fi­nan­cial crunch.

Congress work­ers are not up­beat.

The work­ers carry the bur­den of the man­i­festo prom­ises we made to peo­ple. Vot­ers come to them. There are is­sues that need to be re­solved. The sit­u­a­tion is get­ting bet­ter. The bu­reau­cracy is still work­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of the Akalis. It is tak­ing time to change their mind set that they are not here to fur­ther com­mer­cial in­ter­ests of a party but to serve peo­ple. The CM is aware of it.

There is a sense of un­ease among ur­ban vot­ers over the Bargari blow­up.

It will be best ser­vice to the ur­ban voter that we cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment con­ducive for in­vest­ment. De­vel­op­ment can­not be held hostage to this is­sue. It needs to be set­tled for good. Oth­er­wise, its shadow will loom over Pun­jab. Our cities are like slums. Vil­lages are no bet­ter. We have a lot to do.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.