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"We will not be vindictive" - Interview Parkash Singh Badal - India Today

Ramesh Vinayak ()
28 February 1997

Title : "We will not be vindictive" - Interview Parkash Singh Badal
Author : Ramesh Vinayak
Publication : India Today
Date : February 28, 1997

For 17 Years since the dismissal of the Akali-Janata government in
1980, Badal has been out of power but never out of reckoning. The
triumphant Akali Dal chief shared his optimism of "ushering in a
Maharaja Ranjit Singh rule in Punjab" with Principal Correspondent
RAMESH VINAYAK in Chandigarh. Excerpts:

Q. How do you look at the massive verdict?

A. As people's overwhelming faith in the policies of the Akali-BJP
combine and as a rebuff to the corruption, misrule, and the
politics of divide and rule of the Congress.

Q. What in your view are the challenges ahead?

A. Good governance. Providing a clean and development-oriented
administration and preserving peace.

Q. What about fears in certain quarters of terrorism making a

A. Militancy gained ground only due to the people's support. Now
the same people want peace. No movement can survive without public

Q. But aren't the factors responsible for terrorism still existing?

A. No. I don't think so. There is a sea change in the ground
realities and the mood of the people.

Q. Yet there's a section among the Akalis which still vouches for a
radical ideology.

A. There is nobody to listen to their fiery slogans any longer.
Once upon a time they had an audience; people now want positive
policies and programmes.

Q. But none of the four Akali governments in the past could
complete their full term.

A. It was not because of our fault. Every time the Centre played a
dirty role. My last government had a majority support but was

Q. Isn't it also a fact that each time the Akalis were responsible
for destabilising their own regime?

A. My companions will not betray the people's mandate. We will not
let history repeat itself

Q. How do you propose to tackle an unfriendly United Front (UF)

A. I don't think the UF can afford to play dirty tricks like the
Congress did. As such, the UF should be worried more about its own

Q. Still, what are your expectations from the UF Government?

A. Whatever the Centre ought to do for the states, it should. We
will not beg for favours. Rather, Punjab deserves favours because
its past record has been excellent.

Q. Will you press for pending demands like the river waters issue,
transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi speaking areas?

A. Our party will decide on how to get these demands implemented.

Q. The BJP is opposed to the Anandpur Sahib resolution. How will
the coalition reconcile such ideological contradictions?

A. I do not deny the ideological differences. The BJP may differ
on the Anandpur Sahib resolution, but their support for more power
to states forms a common ground between us. No two parties can be
the same. But, we (the Akalis and the BJP) are on the same
wavelength. We are more united than the 13 constituents of the UF.

Q. But isn't there, the danger, as there was in the past, of this
alliance degenerating into one of communal arithmetic?

A. When our common plank is communal harmony, where is such a
possibility? After all, the BJP is an equal partner in power.

Q. A section of the police fears a witch-hunt. How will you tackle
the issue of human rights?

A. With an even-handed approach and letting the law take its
course. We will not be vindictive towards anyone.

Q. How long will your love-hate relationship with G.S. Tohra last?

A. Rest assured that it's a permanent dosti (friendship) and will
not break.

Q. You know that the induction of several relatives into politics
has not gone down too well in the party.

A. Political families have political kin. If we vacate the home
turf, the Congress will take over.

Q. But can you stop the relatives from calling the shots in your

A. I am very much aware of this. And it won't happen.

Q. How is the Badal of 1980 different from that of 1997?

A. Then I had a black beard and now I have a grey one (laughs). Of
course, I have gained political maturity.

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