‘People want concerns addressed, not blame game’ : The Tribune India

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‘People want concerns addressed, not blame game’

‘People want concerns addressed, not blame game’

Balwinder Kumar, BSP candidate for Jalandhar (reserved) seat

The Tribune interview: Balwinder Kumar, BSP candidate for Jalandhar (reserved) seat

Balwinder Kumar, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate for the Jalandhar (reserved) seat, was a journalist for a national daily and holds a law degree along with two postgraduate degrees — one in English and another in Mass Communication. Despite unsuccessful bids for the Kartarpur Assembly seat in 2017 and 2022, he made a significant impact in the 2019 General Elections, garnering over 2 lakh votes, the highest the BSP has ever received in Jalandhar. In an interview with Tribune Correspondent Avneet Kaur, he stated that people have experienced the performance of other parties and now it’s time to give the BSP a chance to bring about real change. Excerpts:

In 2019, the BSP was in an alliance under the PDA when you contested this seat and secured over 2 lakh votes. Do you think it can repeat that kind of a performance in a solo contest?

Certainly, this time I’m committed to delivering even better results. People are seeking an alternative party that addresses their concerns rather than engaging in a blame game. Despite experiencing the governance of Congress, BJP, SAD, and most recently AAP, little has changed. While the public rallied behind AAP in 2022 in the hope of change, the current state of affairs has left them dissatisfied. They’re now searching for a party that prioritises the public agenda over mere politics.

Do you think with Charanjit Channi, who is the most prominent Dalit face of Punjab in fray this time from Jalandhar, your prospects could get dented?

I don’t view Channi as a prominent Dalit leader; to me, he’s primarily a figure within the Congress. Both the BJP and Congress are perceived as anti-Dalit parties, despite attempts to portray themselves otherwise. For instance, during Charanjit Channi’s tenure as Punjab CM, Dalit students in Jalandhar were deprived of their degrees. What actions did he take to address this issue? Therefore, I don’t believe that his candidacy for the seat would impact my prospects in any way.

You’ve levelled allegations against the district administration and police for discriminating against BSP. Could you elaborate on what transpired?

Step-motherly treatment is being meted out to me as Lok Sabha poll candidate under the AAP government. While the party emphasises injustice towards CM Arvind Kejriwal, they’ve misused state resources over the past two years. My party members face selective targeting by law enforcement agencies, while actions of AAP workers go unchecked. Despite security provided to the BJP, Congress and AAP candidates, I lack adequate protection. Furthermore, the complaints I lodged regarding discrimination have yet to be addressed by the administration. It appears that the administration is operating in accordance with the state government’s directives.

You have got a government job in the PR department, but you refused it to remain in politics. Why?

Ever since my days as a journalist, my focus has been on public concerns. I’ve always felt a deep-seated desire to serve the people, advocate their needs, and drive positive change. Realising that my ambitions and agenda for the people couldn’t be fully achieved through a traditional job, I opted to remain in politics. Even outside of elected office, I’ve been actively working to address issues and find solutions. I believe that once elected, I’ll have the platform and resources to effect even greater change.

What plans do you have for the development of Jalandhar over the next five years?

As a resident of Jalandhar, my foremost goal is to enhance all aspects of my city. Pollution, contaminated water and lack of attention to environmental concerns remain pressing issues. Even established families are opting to relocate abroad due to frustration with government and administrative inefficiencies. I am committed to addressing issues ranging from health and environment to education and employment for the betterment of Jalandhar.

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