MANRAJ GREWAL SHARMA: You’ve got introduced a brand new celebration, Punjab Lok Congress. Is it simply born out of anti-Congressism? What would you name your constitution or philosophy?
A high-power committee will sit down over the subsequent couple of days and resolve the broad outlines, which actually would be the manifesto of the celebration. We’re very critical, we’re not going to go away Punjab at sea. We’ve got threats from inside, with out, and it’s for us to do our bit. I don’t know whether or not the Congress goes to be able to do something the best way they’re proper now; everyone seems to be pulling everybody to bits. And I don’t belief the (Shiromani) Akali Dal, which has at all times performed ‘double’ on these points… I used to be round throughout the build-up to terrorism, and so they performed with either side… I believe there’s a place for all of us who really feel Punjab ought to be safe, Punjabis ought to be safe.
MANRAJ GREWAL SHARMA: You stated you have been open to a seat-sharing association with the BJP, however the BJP has stated it can struggle all of the 117 Meeting constituencies within the state. It stated there may be polarisation in Punjab and so they hope to do effectively. Are these conflicting alerts?
We are going to struggle all of the seats with our allies — whether or not in adjustment with the BJP or with Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa (a former Akali Dal chief who has shaped his personal celebration). When the BJP stated it (that it’ll contest all of the seats), I had not left the Congress… I don’t suppose anybody can declare that we’re going to win 117 seats… Neither are you able to count on a nationwide celebration to say we are going to struggle something lower than 117 seats. They are saying that, however in addition they know that if we’ve got alliances — they’re doing it with Dhindsa too — then give-and-take at all times takes place. I additionally stated we’re going to goal 117 seats… What I meant was that we are going to struggle with whoever is our electoral accomplice.
MANRAJ GREWAL SHARMA: As a army historian, you have got a deep sense of legacy. How will your alliance with the BJP be seen, given its right-wing ideology that you’ve got at all times opposed?
I can’t discuss ideology at a nationwide degree, however in Punjab, we don’t have this type of enterprise. Punjab believes in Punjabiyat. We’re a really liberal society. All of us are collectively — the Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains… We’re a regional celebration and I’m not wanting past that. I’m taking a look at what we will obtain for Punjab. Don’t overlook, we’ve got a 600-km border with a hostile nation, and it is vitally essential that we keep good, pleasant relations with all communities.
… I’m right here to be remembered as anyone who has achieved an excellent deal. I had two phrases within the authorities: 2002-07 and now. What we’ve got achieved, I don’t suppose any authorities has. We achieved 92% of our manifesto guarantees until I used to be chief minister, and I believe the Congress authorities is carrying on with it. The final time this was carried out was by (then Andhra CM) Chandrababu Naidu in 1983, when he achieved 83% of his manifesto guarantees… As an illustration, all people in Punjab is roofed by Rs 5 lakh insurance coverage; anyone throughout the Lal Dora land has possession of their home; we run the Basera scheme in city areas… I cleared a complete lot of initiatives, conceived at the very least three to 4 months in the past. I hope the federal government implements them earlier than the elections.
MANRAJ GREWAL SHARMA: The Congress now accuses you of not doing what was wanted, reminiscent of on the ability buy agreements (PPAs), which have been reworked. CM Charanjit Singh Channi has stated on report that you just have been in cahoots with the Badals.
He can say what he likes… Whenever you wish to eliminate anyone or one thing, you discover an excuse. All the selections which I took at the moment are being carried out. Concerning the PPAs… first, let’s perceive what Punjab requires. This July, the rains have been much less, the dams weren’t full and the ability requirement went as much as one thing like 50,000 megawatts… We’ve got simply two energy items… So, then it’s important to purchase from the nationwide grid. Punjab can solely transmit 7,000 megawatts… We have been, at the moment, shopping for energy at a really heavy fee, however it fluctuates… You might be shopping for it at Rs 1 or at Rs 15… relying on the availability and demand. We rejected Damodar Valley and Bokaro affords of Rs 21 and Rs 19… Final week, the place I’m sitting, we’ve got had 4 hours of energy cuts already. Business and farmers want energy… All these items it’s important to consider, you possibly can’t simply take selections emotionally. Sure, all of us determined that the association ought to be renegotiated. Why? As a result of what the Akali authorities did was completely incorrect… that even when we don’t ask to purchase your energy, we can pay you for it.
MANOJ C G: You’ve got been in politics for nearly 5 many years, CM for 2 phrases. Why has no important Congress chief or MLA or district president joined you? Why are you so remoted?
I’m not remoted, I’ve acquired set-ups now in all of the districts. We’re beginning a membership trial. Why is nobody from the Congress becoming a member of me? It’s quite simple — if anyone joins me, they sack them… The second any MLA steps out of line, they lower his funds. Subsequently, I instructed all of them, ‘Maintain sitting, let the Code of Conduct be enforced, then you definitely be a part of (as soon as it’s in place, the usage of funds is restricted)’. So we’re ready for the Code of Conduct.
MANOJ C G: After you resigned as CM and signalled that you’ll float a brand new celebration, did Sonia Gandhi communicate to you, or Rahul or Priyanka? Did they attain out to you?
Mrs Gandhi spoke to me about three or 4 weeks earlier than I provided to resign. I instructed her I can’t keep it up. She requested me why. I stated as a result of Navjot Singh Sidhu is pulling proper, I’m pulling left… She instructed me to remain. Then, one morning, she referred to as me and instructed me I ought to resign. I stated I had provided you my resignation… She simply stated I’m very sorry. I stated that’s high quality, you don’t should be sorry… They suppose I’m able to retire, I don’t suppose I’m… I’ve nonetheless acquired a few years of productive life left in me. I’ll struggle however I’ll struggle for my state. I may also struggle the anti-national parts… Take a look at the weapons which are coming in, the drones, the bombs… What’s the goal? What’s Pakistan’s intent?… I’ve been by the time after Operation Blue Star and terrorist actions, 35,000 Punjabis died. I don’t need one other Punjabi to die. These are the type of issues which are going to occur, and these fellows don’t know… Submachine weapons have are available in. These incidents have been solely documented throughout June, July and August this final quarter. Drones began coming final 12 months, by June. Earlier, they might burrow the drones underneath the (border) wires or ship them by way of rivers, however final June they began air dropping them… As an individual who has devoted my life to the state and to the nation — 10 years in uniform after which as CM — I owe it to them to do what I can for them.
Are you aware what the debt of Punjab is, how a lot these guys are spending? Our GSDP (Gross State Home Product) on the time of final evaluation was about Rs 5,35,000 crore. We’ve got already borrowed Rs 4,00,000 crore… Seventy-five per cent of Punjab is in debt… Two months since I left, they’ve spent one other Rs 20,000 crore… Subsequently, I have to keep and do what I can.
MANRAJ GREWAL SHARMA: You as soon as stated that if Punjab continues to develop paddy, it can face desertification in 25 years, and that we are going to develop kinnow as an alternative. However it appears the world underneath paddy has solely elevated even underneath your watch.
We began a field-to-fork programme and some pilot initiatives in Ropar district with Reliance. It could have arrange 100,000 shops and we’d have grown greens and fruits for them. Reliance would give seeds to the farmer, train them the strategies, and straight elevate the produce… However the Akalis cancelled it… I’ve been speaking to specialists… recommended that if we will get a grant from the Authorities of India… for perhaps Rs 20,000-30,000 crore, create a type of MSP for pulses. We cease rising paddy and begin rising pulses… Pulses want no water, they may develop simply with rainfall… I hope this pursuits the Authorities, we’ve got despatched a proposal.
HARIKISHAN SHARMA: Throughout your tenure as CM, did the Centre, notably the Minister of Agriculture or anybody from the Prime Minister’s Workplace, ever ask you to mediate with the farmers?
Initially, the Authorities of India thought I used to be the one behind this motion… If anybody desires to protest within the nationwide capital, it’s inside their energy to take action. I’m not going to cease them… However sure, individuals have been assembly these farmers on the Singhu border to discover a resolution — not politicians, however intelligence officers, businesses… I do know the farmers are robust however I (was) nervous of the impression on the legislation and order in Punjab. The farmers have been very peaceable, cooperative.
… For me, it (the priority) goes past that… As we speak, there’s a China and Pakistan collusion, now you’ll have a Taliban collusion… The Taliban, Chinese language and Pakistani forces collectively… I need Punjab to be safe and secure.
For those who don’t have an answer (earlier than the elections), none of us will be capable to go to villages, they won’t need you. How do you struggle an election? How do you enter the agricultural belt? They throw stones and break automobiles.
MANOJ C G: Now that you’re out of the Congress, what’s your frank opinion about Rahul Gandhi? Do you suppose the Congress can bounce again underneath his management?
ANANT GOENKA: I wish to add to the query. 4 or 5 months in the past, you have been very supportive of the subsequent era of the Gandhi household (in a dialog with The Indian Categorical).
I’ve seen the Congress develop. I used to be a younger MP with Mrs Indira Gandhi in 1980, she had an excellent set of advisors. When Rahul got here into the image, I stated he was not prepared for it. Subsequently, he and Priyanka began travelling, and so they have improved since then. So let’s see, solely time will inform if they’re prepared for it.
MANRAJ GREWAL SHARMA: Many really feel that if the Congress is to succeed, the Opposition is to succeed, the Gandhis ought to get out of the best way.
I’m now not within the Congress, why are you asking me? Nonetheless, you (the celebration) put apart 23 eminent individuals, reminiscent of Ghulam Nabi Azad, Shashi Tharoor, Kapil Sibal (a part of the Group of 23 that’s demanding sweeping modifications within the Congress). They’re belongings of the celebration. What are you attaining by that? If you wish to strengthen a celebration, you make it a cohesive drive, make individuals be a part of it, you don’t push them out. And for those who suppose you are able to do away with the older era and simply begin one thing proper from the beginning, it’s not going to work.
NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIAN: You gained with an enormous majority in 2017, introduced some incredible initiatives. Are you able to mirror on the place issues went incorrect? May you have got carried out one thing otherwise?
There are ambitions of your personal individuals; each minister has a number of portfolios. I’m not saying Charanjit Singh Channi just isn’t an excellent minister. However then ambition comes… Folks have been cooking up studies… I’m going to proceed doing an excellent job whether or not I’m throughout the Congress or with out it.
I hope we will have a seat adjustment with the BJP and with the Dhindsa faction.
VANDITA MISHRA: One can’t keep away from the sense of disaster in Punjab. The business has stalled, agriculture has plateaued, mother and father wish to ship their youngsters overseas. You say Punjab must be protected and secured. However do you suppose you’re not secure, you’re not safe? Do you want a authorities or police or army to safe Punjab and Punjabiyat?
Punjabiyat means individuals of Punjab have at all times thought-about themselves Punjabi, whether or not from an higher caste or another caste. Everybody works collectively as a result of it’s our heritage, it comes by our faith. You’re proper, persons are asking their mother and father to promote their land to assist them go to different international locations. Younger individuals have ambition, that doesn’t imply we abandon Punjab. Therefore, my goal was that ` 1 lakh crore industrial funding wants to return into the state… They (the vested pursuits) haven’t any recruits at this time and Punjab is peaceable. However they may recruit (if there’s no resolution to the farmer agitation).
Kamaldeep Singh Brar: Are you able to share names of a few of the huge smugglers arrested throughout your tenure as a part of the crackdown on medicine?
After I took over, 65,000 individuals caught in drug instances have been in jail. After I left, there have been 45,000. There have been six huge fish, however I’m sorry, I don’t have the names with me. For one of many accused we had reached out to the Interpol and have been making an attempt to get him extradited. We extradited one individual from Armenia, one from Spain, one individual is already in a lockup in Rome, one other goes by extradition proceedings, and one individual is from Georgia… I broke the again of the drug cartels, however that doesn’t imply the racket has ended. It hasn’t led to America and People have been working because the Thirties to complete the drug cartels.
Kamaldeep Singh Brar: Your authorities didn’t act on the STF report that alleged a nexus between police personnel, politicians and an alleged smuggler, Gurdeep Singh, who was arrested final 12 months.
It’s the STF’s job at this time to see to it that motion is taken.
Navjeevan Gopal: In your resignation letter to Sonia Gandhi, you stated quite a lot of Congress leaders have been concerned in unlawful sand mining, however you didn’t title them because it may embarrass the celebration. Do you propose to disclose these names now?
I’m instructed that there are 4 or 5 giant contractors within the mining enterprise and little fellows who become involved… The Congress president instructed me unlawful mining is occurring within the state and we mentioned a few of the names. I knowledgeable the minister involved to look into this challenge. We knew who these individuals have been, however they weren’t caught. It could not be proper of me to take names till these persons are caught.
Anju Agnihotri Chaba: Each successive authorities in Punjab up to now few many years has been speaking about diversification of crops, however nothing has occurred. Why is there no concrete or long-term plan on this challenge?
No, there is not only speak… We made a proposal that pulses be grown. Sadly, these are issues it’s important to increase with the Authorities of India, as a result of meals safety is a matter. And it takes a very long time for the Authorities of India to resolve. And by the point one thing occurs, governments change. On points reminiscent of diversification and the way forward for Punjab, each authorities should observe what the sooner authorities has carried out… So I agree that this enterprise of diversification has been all speak and nothing is on the bottom… In my time, it’s not that the world (underneath paddy) has gone up, the manufacturing has. Cotton space has gone up, however that’s a part of the diversification programme. We’ve got lower down fertilisers as an example, to get this bumper crop. However sure, it’s a foul signal that we proceed to have paddy.
(This session was held earlier than the PM’s announcement on Nov 19 that the three farm legal guidelines can be repealed)