FM Badal vs SAD Badals: What have Sukhbir, Harsimrat done for farmers, asks Manpreet | punjab | Hindustan Times
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FM Badal vs SAD Badals: What have Sukhbir, Harsimrat done for farmers, asks Manpreet

Face to Face with FM: “Both Sukhbir and (his wife) Harsimrat have never even sympathised with farmers committing suicides. On the contrary, they pushed generations of Punjab under debt. Why couldn’t Harsimrat — being a Union minister — get a farm loan waiver?”

punjab Updated: Jun 20, 2017 22:44 IST
Sukhdeep Kaur
Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal interacting with the media after budget presentation at Punjab Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh on Tuesday, June 20.
Finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal interacting with the media after budget presentation at Punjab Vidhan Sabha in Chandigarh on Tuesday, June 20. (Sanjeev Sharma/HT)

The “weighing scales” — also Shiromani Akali Dal’s poll symbol — have tilted among the estranged cousins. Manpreet Badal had earlier presented the budget from the Akali benches. Seven years later, he returned fire to SAD president and cousin Sukhbir Badal, as finance minister of the Congress. In an interview to HT, Manpreet said the SAD had no option left but to disrupt the House. Excerpts:

Q: Sukhbir has dubbed the loan waiver a farce, a crude joke with farmers. Is Rs 1500-crore allocation enough?

Manpreet: What has Sukhbir done in the 10 years in power. Both Sukhbir and (his wife) Harsimrat have never even sympathised with farmers committing suicides. On the contrary, they pushed generations of Punjab under debt. Why couldn’t Harsimrat — being a Union minister — get a farm loan waiver? Rs 1,500 crore will take care of farmers with up to five acres of land by settling their loan of up to Rs 2 lakh. Nearly 8.75 lakh farmers will come out of debt completely. They should be applauding us as unlike the BJP governments in UP and Maharashtra, we have announced relief of Rs 2 lakh, not just Rs 1 lakh.

Q: You announced just Rs 10 crore for 50 lakh smartphones. Will they come so cheap?

The smart phones will come for free. Even Rs 10 crore will not be used. There is so much competition among service providers and we would opt for global tenders.

Video below: Key points from the budget

Q: You have promised 3 lakh jobs for Punjab youth through Ola and Uber cabs. Sukhbir says there are just 25,000 taxis in the state. Isn’t the figure too ostentatious?

Ola and Uber cabs will be a small part of the 3 lakh jobs. It would also include autos and light motor vehicles. In my constituency Bathinda alone, there are 8,000 autos. Punjab has a capacity to absorb many more cabs. They will compete with buses of the Badals.

Q: In your first budget speech as Akali Dal finance minister, you had accused the Congress of leaving a legacy of debt. Sukhbir says your speech is just the same, only your colours have changed.

Punjab has been struggling with legacy of debt for the past many decades. I can show Sukhbir the budgets of his governments on how many promises he fulfilled. At least, we are coming good on our promises. They have nothing to say against the government and the only option left for them is to disrupt the session.

Q: Is naming schemes after Shaheed Bhagat Singh not mere symbolism?

I am a student of history and Bhagat Singh has inspired me the most. Punjab has not been able to produce someone with same intellect and stature in the past 100 years. He can be a role model for generations to come. Naming schemes after him is just a small tribute.