Tribune News Service
Dera Baba Nanak, September 20
Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa has successfully managed to manoeuver innumerable tight turns, steep slopes and political reversals in what has been a roller-coaster ride for the Dera Baba Nanak MLA in his three-decade long career.
He commenced his electoral career in 1997 with a loss but with political insight and wisdom over the years he has withered many a storm to become the Deputy CM.
In 2017, immediately after becoming an MLA for the third time, he stepped on the gas-pedal. He started consolidating his position inch by inch by ushering in developmental initiatives.
The Kartarpur corridor, built in 2018-19, actually acted as a catalyst in elevating his political stature. In the wake of its construction, Randhawa quietly brought in developmental works amounting to Rs 172 crore in his assembly seat.
He played a key role in its planning and execution and often camped at the site for days working jointly with NHAI officials. He was the one who reigned in the mining mafia after it started selling sand at exorbitant rates. And when farmers refused to let their lands get acquired, he donned the role of a negotiator.
Randhawa was made the Cooperation and Jails minister when CM Capt Amarinder Singh expanded his Cabinet six months after winning the polls.
Considered to be a no-nonsense politician, his hold over his department’s bureaucrats was such that nobody dared ask him any questions even if they were convenient ones.
On many an occasion, Randhawa has proved that he was not the one to be brow-beaten.
In November 2018 when Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu laid the foundation stone of the Kartarpur corridor in his assembly seat, he created a flutter. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, in her speech, started driving home the political agenda of the Akalis.
By doing so she had virtually dared to take on Randhawa. Seething with anger and breaking protocol, he walked up to the Vice President. Without mincing any words he told him, “Mr Vice President, this is not a political stage. Please ask Mrs Badal to stop her diatribe or else I will be forced to stop her.”
It was Sunil Jakhar who placated ruffled feathers otherwise things would have gone off in a tangent.
As Cooperation minister, he did what none of his predecessors could do. He took several fiscal measures to pull Markfed out of the red. The Rs 809.85 crore debt, accrued over the last 60 years, was reduced by 50 per cent.
“A large amount of money was lying in Income Tax refunds. I fail to understand why my predecessors failed to see a fortune lying with the IT,” he said.
His ‘Man Friday’ in his constituency is Kamaljeet Singh Tony, a progressive vegetable farmer. He is Randhawa’s go-to man.
“Kalanaur is a SAD dominated area. The politically suave Randhawa has now vertically split the Akali vote by bringing in developmental works including a government college and a sugarcane research institute,” admitted a SAD leader.
The brashness and brazenness which earlier were central to his personality are now relics. “His conduct has now undergone a sea change. Earlier, the man was feared. Now he is respected,” said a Cabinet colleague.
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