A reluctant politician, Harsimrat Kaur Badal is no more basking in the glory of being the daughter-in-law of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal or wife of deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal. In an interview to Sukhdeep Kaur, the Bathinda MP says the CM and she think alike on most issues and she often mediates between the father and the son.
Q: As a first-time MP, you were one of the most vociferous speakers in the 15th Lok Sabha.
Harsimrat: I do not hesitate to call a spade a spade. I speak my mind and am not someone who can be shouted down. If they shout, I shout back.
Q: Union minister Jairam Ramesh says if anyone can silence Harsimrat, it is Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa.
Harsimrat: Bajwa's claim to fame is that he counters me in Parliament. He once even thanked me for becoming famous by doing so.
Q: Is there a difference of opinion between the Punjab CM and the deputy CM? Who do you agree with more?
Harsimrat: The CM and I think alike. We both talk of farmers and like to visit villages for sangat darshan. You will hardly catch Sukhbir doing that. He thinks big in terms of infrastructure, investor summits etc. Sukhbir and I disagree more. I often mediate between the father and the son. My father-in-law tells me at times to become the CM.
Q: But the CM has been taking on your brother, Bikram Singh Majithia, openly in public functions?
Harsimrat: The CM is a politician. He does this to keep the balance of power in Majha, to keep the leaders of that area quiet. He gets along very well with my brother and relies on him.
Q: In five years of being a Member of Parliament, how has life changed for you?
Harsimrat: The most important change is I had to neglect my kids. I feel they have paid a price for my political career. They look after themselves and my worst nightmare is receiving a call from home that one of them is not well. They tell me Sukhbir is not just their father but also the mother. He sits with them and talks to them about things a mother would.
Q: But you choose to remain one now?
Harsimrat: I am a firm believer in destiny and very religious. The course of my life was designed by God and I am following what He has decided for me.
Q: The Congress claims your party plays politics over religion, such as the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Harsimrat: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in his interview admitted the hand of his party leaders in the genocide. As a Sikh, I too am a victim of the 1984 riots. The mob attacked our home thrice. Mother locked us up in the storeroom and told us to not even breathe. As a 17-year-old, I visited relief camps in Delhi and wrote down the survivors' stories. We faced immense hostility during and after the riots.
Q: Your constituency is a hotbed of protests. Does it rattle you?
Harsimrat: What rattles me is that I am made a soft target for every incident in the state against women. They question what is Harsimrat, brand ambassador of Nanhi Chhaan, doing? At times, the protesters are at fault but the politician in me has to keep quiet and be politically correct.
Q: The Shiromani Akali Dal is watching every move of the AAP closely? Does it matter for the party in Punjab?
Harsimrat: Everyone in the country is watching the AAP closely. But their performance in Delhi as a government has eroded their popularity. Like Manpreet Singh Badal (People's Party of Punjab president) took some of the anti-incumbency votes, the AAP may too. Bathinda is a predominantly rural constituency and the AAP does not matter there.