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"Our Govt stability will depend on the Centre's intentions" - The Indian Express

Kulvinder Kular ()
9 February 1997

Title : "Our Govt stability will depend on the Centre's intentions"
Author : Kulvinder Kular
Publication : The Indian Express
Date : February 9, 1997

For Punjab's chief minister-in-waiting Prakash Singh Badal, the
countdown to power is almost over. Badal is all set to ascend to
power for the third time and after a gap of 17 years. Politics,
during this period, has come full circle, after passing through a
turbulent, gory phase. Badal looks back and ahead in a
poll-eve-interview with KULVINDER KULAR. Excerpts:

What do you think of the outgoing government?

It was the most corrupt government in the country, if not in the
world. Everything from recruitment to transfers of employees had
been up for grabs.

Besides, the government failed to perform even a single role
expected of an administration in a democracy. There was no rule of
law and dispensation of justice to the people. In fact, all
sections of the population were disillusioned with the government
because of its anti-people policies.

Does it mean you will he coming to power on a negative mandate?

No. It would be a positive mandate as the people have faith that
the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) combine
would usher in an era of communal harmony and strong unity of the
Punjabis. They also have the performance of our governments in the
past to believe in our word.

How will your government be different from its its predecessors?

We'll provide corruption-free government. Nobody, be it officials
or ministers, will dare to indulge in corruption.

There have been many governments in Punjab who have come to power
with taller claims and bigger promises.

They were not sincere. Corruption or its absence percolates from
rulers down to the public. A prime minister or a chief minister
cannot have a clean rule if his own slate is not clean. MY mind as
well as intentions are very -clear. Ninety per cent of the
corruption in the state will end the day I take over.

A number of your close relatives are going to he elected to the
state Assembly?

This is a baseless charge hurled at us. How many of my kin are in
the fray ? They are well Qualified and deserving. Manpreet
(nephew) contesting from Giddrerbaha is the sitting MLA and had
fought the byelection against the Congress when nobody dared to
take on it.

Moreover, traditional political families have to stay in politics
and elections create an avenue for that in a democracy.

But how are you going to see that power is not concentrated in one

I shall not allow any of my family members to intervene in the
administration. Nobody did it when I was chief minister earlier.

With the BJP as part of your government and also in power in
Haryana, are you hopeful of an easier solution to the inter-state
land and waters disputes?

Only time will tell. A lot will depend on the Centre. It lies in
the domain of the government in Delhi to transfer Chandigarh to
Punjab and resolve other issues.

Are you keen on the Rajiv-Longowal Accord ? Is it still relevant?

Hardly. Even those who were a party to it had backtracked on its

With a government supported by the Congress at the Centre, don't
you apprehend any confrontation with the Deve Gowda government?

It has now become a fact of the nation's politics that different
political parties shall rule at the Centre and in states. The
Centre must shed its bias against Opposition- ruled states and be
fair to them. Otherwise it would be very difficult to function.

None of the Akali governments in the past, including your own,
completed even two years in office. How are you going to provide a
stable government this time that last, five years?

Do you know how we fell ? The Centre had been responsible for
pulling us down. S.S. Barnala was dismissed a day after Rajiv
Gandhi praised him in Parliament. There has been infighting in our
party, but which doesn't have it? Our stability will depend on the
intentions of the rulers at the Centre. That is why we want
Article 356 to be scrapped-on account of its gross misuse.

What is your agenda for Punjab after taking over?

I would like Punjab to enter the 21st century as the most
progressive state in the country and not the one that is notorious
for graft, absence of rule of law and violation of human rights.

The Congress has been warning people that terrorism will spring
back under your regime.

People have seen who created and fuelled terrorism. We will ensure
total normalcy and terrorism will not be allowed to raise its head

How would you go about the controversial 51-point economic action
plan of Rajinder Kaur Bhattal whose implementation was stalled by
elections ?

This plan was only a political stunt which lacked sincerity as the
same issues remained completely forgotten during the earlier
Congress rule. We'll implement only our economic agenda as
outlined in our manifesto which includes providing free power to
farm tube wells and abolition of octroi and land revenue cess.

Don't you think these sops would drain the already strapped
resources of the state which owes Rs 5,500 crore as security debt
to the Centre and has to pay Rs 900 crone by way of interest every

Proper handling of the finances is the need of the hour. Tax
revenue can be doubled simply by its proper recovery.

You have had some basic contradictions with your partner, the BJP.
Won't it affect smooth functioning of the government?

The BJP has supported the SAD on all Punjab demands. Its election
speeches are a testimony.

But the BJP advocates a strong centre while you demand true

The BJP too is for devolution of powers to the states. Its own
governments in some states have felt the interference from the
Centre as we had been facing earlier.

Will you follow the lone-man one-post' principle or continue both
as the SAD president while being CM.

It is premature to comment. It will depend on the political
situation of the time.

How would you keep the clergy in check as in the past religion has
been used by some Akali leaders to haul up the CMs.

We will take guidance from religion. A government based on pious
religious principles will be an ideal government. But there will be
no place for communalism. The clergy has never interfered in my

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