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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Face-to-face with FB

Vikramdeep Singh Johal , Hindustan Times   February 23, 2014
First Published: 10:27 IST(23/2/2014) | Last Updated: 11:26 IST(23/2/2014)

Last night, I had an exclusive chat with FB. No, it wasn’t a one-to-one with the one and only Mark Zuckerberg. Actually, I’m so busy I haven’t been able to accept his ‘friend request’. Let me clarify: FB here doesn’t stand for Facebook, innocent readers, but for Fateh Burj, the 100-metre-high victory tower built by the Punjab government at Chappar Chiri village in SAS Nagar. This imposing monument, which is even taller than Qutab Minar, played host to the Progressive Punjab Agriculture Summit (PPAS) earlier this week. Despite our gargantuan height difference, we clicked like a house on fire and had an absorbing conversation. Excerpts:

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Me: So, how was the summit?
FB: I’m the real summit, the towering glory of the Akali-BJP government, the iconic symbol of its sky-high ambitions.
Me: Hey, don’t start off like a sarkari PRO. No newspaper is going to publish that, unless it’s funded by the powers that be. I’m asking you about the agri summit.
FB: Oh, I see. Well, it was a resounding success. The state government proved yet again that it’s the undisputed champion of the farmers. Thanks to this mega event, no farmer will ever commit suicide in Punjab.
Me: Do you mean that Punjab’s debt-ridden farmers will go to other states to take the extreme step?
FB: No, no. We simply won’t let them end their lives. At least not till the elections are over.
Me: I’ve heard that the government has promised `70-crore compensation for families of farm suicide victims.
FB: That’s true. Dead men can’t vote, but their kin can. So we can’t afford to upset them, especially when the Lok Sabha polls are fast approaching.
Me: What magic formula did the summit come up with to boost agriculture?
FB: DIVERSIFICATION. It holds the key not only in farming, but also in every sphere of life. In politics, too, it’s vital to diversify, preferably by capturing the businesses of sand mining, liquor, transport and real estate.
Me: Opposition leaders have called the event a waste of time, a farce.
FB: These frustrated souls are always oozing with negativity. I bet their blood group must be B-negative rather than positive. Anyway, they are no experts on agricultural affairs. I’m sure they can’t even tell the difference between a happy seeder and a combine harvester.
Me: What exactly is the difference?
FB: Well, uhm… there are lots of dissimilarities… but these are all too technical. You won’t be able to understand them. Moreover, I’m a war memorial, not a progressive farmer.
Me: A Congress leader has suggested that after Progressive Punjab Investors’ Summit (PPIS) and PPAS, the state government should organise PPUS (U for unemployment).
FB: I applaud his innovative idea and invite him to join the ruling party. But I can’t give him 100% guarantee of a ticket.
Me: You usually hog the limelight around poll time. Inaugurated ahead of the 2012 assembly elections, you later hosted the government’s swearing-in. Now you are again in the thick of things. Aren’t you a seasonal attraction?
FB: You are right, little fellow. I’m indeed seasonal, just like the promises made by my political masters (winks). But please don’t quote me, I beg of you. Otherwise, they’ll pull me down and raise a seven-star hotel on the spot. Just keep all this off the record. Promise?
Me: Gentleman politician’s promise. 

vikramdeep.johal@hindustantimes.com

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