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We could have won more seats: Tohra - The Times of India

Surinder Awasthi ()
11 February 1997

Title : We could have won more seats: Tohra
Author : Surinder Awasthi
Publication : The Times of India
Date : February 11, 1997

Akali leader Gur charan Singh Tohra, one of the main architects Of
the landslide win of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) combine in the Punjab assembly election, feels that the
Akalis could have won more seats, but for the infighting in the
party, especially in Sangrur.

Mr Tohra, who has been president of the Shiromani Gurdwara
Prabhandhak Committee (SGPC) for over 20 years, spoke to The Time
of India News Service on Monday morning as the last results were
coming in.


Did you expect such a massive victory?

Yes, the results are on expected lines. However, we could easily
have won some more seats, but for the infighting in Sangrur, where
we were otherwise very strong. Despite our best efforts, we failed
to persuade the Akali rebels in the fray there to retire and work
for the success of the party. We lost four seats - Dhuri, Barnala,
Dirba and Lehra - in Sangrur.

No Akali rebel was in the fray in Lehra, yet your party lost In its
own bastion?

A lot of money was pumped into the constituency by outgoing chief
minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. The Congress also brought
outsiders to cast their votes in the constituency.

Have you riled any complaint against this?

It is up to the party candidature file a complaint. I am not aware
it a formal complaint has been lodged.

Who has gained more from the alliance? The BJP or the Akalis?

Both have gained. Our gains are beyond electoral victories. The
alliance has helped both of us correct the distorted view that is
projected about us in the public. The BJP is projected by its
detractors as anti-minorities and the alliance with the Akalis has
proved that it is a secular party. On the other hand, the Congress
had been projecting a distorted image of the Akalis since early
eighties and the alliance helped us correct this distortion too.

Besides, the CPI and the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)
and the Akali Dal (Mann) were all determined to defeat us. We
joined hands with the BJP as we are the natural allies.

Do you think the Akali-BJP combine will be able to provide a stable
government? The BJP may have reservations over the river-water
sharing issue since it is a coalition partner in Haryana and in
power in Rajasthan.

If we have surplus water, only then can we share it with the
neighbouring states. After all, these states too are part of our
country and our own farmer brothers cultivate land there.

You had projected BJP state president Balramji Das Tandon as deputy
chief minister. Will you now persuade Mr Badal about it?

During elections, the electorate feels that a minister can look
after the constituency better than an MLA. So the announcement was
made to reassure the people that their area would not be neglected.
The selection of the council of ministers is the prerogative of the
chief minister.

You had stated that if you were the home minister, you would expose
the "corruption" in the Congress within three months. Are you
inclined to take up the assignment?

I am not interested in becoming home minister. When I made the
statement, I was only setting the agenda for the home minister.

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