On the eve of voting, HT interviewed Punjab CM and SAD patron Parkash Singh Badal over email. Punjab votes on Saturday, February 4, and the SAD-BJP regime is facing two-term anti-incumbency. Here’s what he said:
HT: What is your assessment of the polls?
Badal: We will be back much stronger than in 2012. Last time, the Congress had written us off. This time, both the AAP and Congress are making the same mistake. They will be in for a rude shock. The battle is still on, and we are poised for a forceful mandate.
HT: Why is Malwa backing AAP? Deputy CM and SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal said AAP is strong in 21 segments there.
Badal: Sukhbir had said that in 21 segments AAP is in some kind of fight. On the other 48 seats of Malwa, it is not even in contention. How does that make AAP strong in Malwa?
HT: Has the AAP phenomenon crossed the Sutlej into Doaba and Majha?
Badal: There is no AAP phenomenon even in Malwa. Across the Sutlej, they are not even in a position to challenge us on a single seat. The so-called AAP presence in Malwa is merely propaganda and a social media myth.
HT: Do you see anger against the government?
Badal: Anger is in the minds of AAP and Congress leaders, and it is justified. Frustration leads to anger. We have a strong bond with the people — a relationship based on love and trust.
HT: Has your development plank worked?
Badal: People want governments that perform. They proved it in 2012 when we won purely on development agenda. For the people, it is a plank along with peace and communal harmony. Governments are formed to maintain peace and to ensure development. On both counts, Congress and AAP are afraid to face us.
HT: Why will people back the SAD-BJP?
Badal: For the same reason for which people voted us back to power in 2012. They elected us to ensure peace and development. We did both.