Shiromani Akali Dal secretary general and chairman of the committee to form SAD manifesto, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, has said that though the SADBJP is in alliance, the BJP manifesto is not binding on the SAD or any other ally of the National Democratic Alliance.
“The media should not mix our manifesto with that of the BJP and their poll promises with ours. The SAD is a different party and has its own ideology and agenda. Our poll manifestoes can be different as we are different parties.
But we can share power by working out a common minimum programme under the NDA,” he said while replying to a question on the contradictory manifestoes of the two allies. Excerpts from the interview:
HT: The SAD has again promised the moon. With empty coffers, how will you keep these promises?
Dhindsa: You need the will and not the money to keep promises. The SAD has successfully implemented all promises. The Congress mocked us when we promised atta-dal, but the scheme is going on for the past seven years because of our intent to feed all needy citizens of Punjab. The SAD will meet all poll promises as with the NDA coming into power Punjab will get plenty of funds. There are some promises from the Assembly manifesto that will be implemented in the coming days. We still have three years left to seek the mandate.
The SAD manifesto contradicts that of the BJP on several issues.
The media is not right in mixing our manifestoes as the SAD is a different party. We are a 90-year-old party which has its own ideology and issues. The media and opposition are making a mistake by mixing our manifestoes. Our poll manifestoes can be different as we are different parties. But we can share power by working out a common minimum programme (CMP) under the NDA. All controversial issues will be put aside.
But the BJP promises some controversial issues like the linking of rivers.
Though the BJP promised linking of rivers, it is not on our agenda. The SAD is against linking of rivers and will oppose it. The SAD has always favoured the Riparian Act and we have mentioned it in our manifesto. Let me make it clear that the Ram temple is also not on our agenda. As an ally of the NDA, we will have to frame a CMP where all such controversial issues will be left behind for smooth running of the government. The SAD is a votary of communal harmony and development. Shifting of Chandigarh and Punjabi areas will be included in the CMP.
If SAD is votary of development, why is it asking for votes in the name of Modi? Most of the SAD leadership is asking votes by projecting Modi as the PM.
The SAD has again formed the government in the state because people voted for its pro-development agenda. The SAD is again fighting election on its performance in the state. Modi certainly is a big issue as the public wants to see him as PM. The NDA government will usher in a new era of development in Punjab as the SAD will bring in plenty of funds, which the Congress missed.
You are facing a tough time because of AAP that has risen significantly in Sangrur.
AAP is a bubble which will burst when the results are out. People will listen to the jokes of Bhagwant Mann. He is not a serious contender and will have a similar fate like that of the assembly polls when he finished third. The rise of AAP is because of nonperformance of Congress candidate Vijayinder Singla, who has lost the faith of Congressmen. Five halqa in-charges of the Congress are missing as they are against Singla. Thus many Congressmen are joining AAP. AAP has no impact on the SAD.
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has projected you as a minister in the NDA govt. It’s the greatness of Badal saab.
He is always kind to me. I have already served as a minister in the NDA government and if I get another chance, I would bring plenty of funds to Punjab.
Voters in your area have been demanding opening of poppy husk shops.
The government is against any type of drug. We won’t allow it. The SAD is working for a drug-free Punjab.