What do you see as the high points of your five-year term?
Harsimrat: The people of Bathinda gave me a landslide win. I have used the opportunity to serve them by focusing on development. Look at the amount of work I have done in each village — right from roads, water supply and sewerage to schools, gyms and public health. My NGO, Nanhi Chhaan Foundation, has helped nearly 4,000 girls become self-reliant. We not only train them at our 92 sewing centres but also give them sewing machines. In the last five years, nearly 15 lakh saplings have been distributed as ‘boota parshad’ for saving the environment as part of the campaign.
What’s that you wished to do as an MP but couldn’t? Why?
Funds permitting, I would have given old-age pension to all women above 60 as most of them get no money for their needs. I wanted to upgrade all village schools and ensure buses to ferry children from villages. Water channels in many villages need repair, besides outlet drains. We could have made Nanhi Chhaan a bigger success.
You are labelled as a non-resident MP. How many days do you get to be in Bathinda?
Parliament is in session for nearly five months a year. On an average, I am in Bathinda 10 to 15 days at a stretch most of the months. I have visited each village at least three times over during the last five years.
Your opponents attribute your win to the Badal bahu tag. Does Harsimrat, the MP, get any credit?
I won’t deny that Bathinda has benefited in terms of development grants as I am able to raise demands of my people before the CM. But one thing I can take credit for is my party’s performance in Parliament. Though I consult the CM for our party’s stand on important political issues, I decide almost everything else.
Why should people of Bathinda re-elect you?
Going by performance, my heart tells me the victory margin would be even higher than that of last time. But logic tells me the expectations of people from me were too high. There could also be anti-incumbency sentiments. The poll results will teach me a political lesson whether performance and hard work count.