Friday, November 15, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Cong govt has lost credibility: Badal
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 14
“No government has ever lost its credibility or fell in esteem in the eyes of the people as fast as the present Congress government in the state did,” says the leader of the Opposition and the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, maintaining that “it has failed on all fronts”.

“Why Sikhs alone. Every section of society — farmers, employees, traders, or even urbanites — is getting alienated from the ruling Congress. Its action of gross interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs perhaps may prove to be the last nail in its coffin”.

“Normally the Congress Government, based on its past experiences, should not have interfered. Even in the past, whenever it tried to meddle in Sikh religious affairs, its image got a severe beating, besides severe political drubbing. But this time the level of interference was unprecedented. Not only elected members of the SGPC but also their family members, including minor children, were humiliated, tortured and implicated in false police cases,” he says, maintaining that “no one with support of the Congress can succeed in Sikh affairs in general and the SGPC in particular”.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune here this afternoon, Mr Badal said that he would not like to comment on whether the Jathedar of Akal Takht would act on the resolution adopted unanimously at the general house meeting of the SGPC on Tuesday to summon the Punjab Chief Minister or not but the outcome of the election had proved that the SAD continue to enjoy confidence of the people.

“The elections to the SGPC are always peaceful. The phobia and fears the government created on the eve of the elections was totally misplaced and baseless. The present Congress leadership must have learnt a lesson by burning its fingers afresh. The only agenda it had was to get its people in the saddle. The outcome has exposed all those anti-panthic forces and now people know for certain their real character”, said Mr Badal.

“The Congress has certainly landed itself in a soup. Though it is their internal affair to evaluate the damage it has certainly alienated itself from the Sikhs,” the SAD Chief said, maintaining that next on the agenda of the dal would be to make its “jail bharo operation” a success. The quantum of damage it has suffered would be reflected in the next Lok Sabha elections where Congressmen were pinning great hopes on Punjab.

“It is the Congress which resorted to confrontation from the day it assumed power. On the day the results of Assembly elections were announced, we accepted our defeat and bowed our head before the verdict of the people. We also promised to extend full cooperation to anything which was in the interest of the development of the state or its people”.

“But the Congress Government had only a one-point agenda. Gun for Parkash Singh Badal or his family. Are such things mentioned in the election manifesto of a party. The government has thrown all norms to the winds. The Vigilance Bureau has been given sweeping powers. It arrests dal workers, tortures them, forces them to sign blank papers and pressurises them to name me or any member of my family”.

“We supported the drive against corruption. We openly stated that let there be an inquiry commission headed by a high court judge and all complaints of corruption be referred to it for adjudication. Based on its findings, cases be registered against all those found guilty. Instead of following this procedure, it resorted to political victimisation and made SAD leaders and workers its target with the sole aim of getting me or my family members”.

“I do not know whether the political developments after the SGPC elections would be any different from those in the pre-election period. I am mentally prepared for anything the government plans against me or any member of my family”.

“We will review the political situation arising out of the November 12 SGPC meeting when all MLAs or our party candidates who lost the last Assembly elections, district jathedars, SGPC members and other party functionaries meet at Amritsar on November 16. This meeting will be followed by a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee meeting. We will also finalise our strategy to make the ‘jail bharo andolan’ from November 27 a big success,” said Mr Badal, maintaining that “it is not only our party, but all sections of society have been in confrontation with the government which has put a stop on all development projects and discontinued welfare schemes started by the previous government.”

Denying that his government had left the state coffers empty, the former Chief Minister held that each “state has a budget which reflects the income and expenditure of a state. We initiated so many development projects which are continuing even today. We supplied free water and power. We started many welfare schemes. So all this continued during our regime. If we could do all this, why not they”.

“It is not correct to say that we left the state by shattering its economy. If the economy was shattered, how could projects like Thein dam be completed,” he asked.

Besides managing internal strife in the party, the major challenges for the Congress government, Mr Badal said, would be the SYL issue. “I have my doubts whether it will file any fresh case or petition in the apex court before the deadline of January 11 next year. It does not take so long for legal luminaries to prepare and file a case,” he added.

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