Former finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal being left out of the coronation ceremony of Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh on December 15 has laid to rest rumours that Manpreet’s party, the People’s Party of Punjab (PPP), would be forming a permanent alliance with Congress, at least for now. In an interview with staff correspondent Navrajdeep Singh, Manpreet talks about the alliance with the Congress and the future of his party, which has been seeing a phase of political isolation.
HT: You were expected to be at the Congress’ Bathinda rally on December 15, but you have not been invited. Why?
Manpreet: We are only in an election alliance with the Congress. The December 15 rally is an installation ceremony of the Congress’ newly-appointed Punjab chief, Capt Amarinder Singh and is not an event for which the leaders of other parties can be invited. Therefore, the PPP has nothing to do with it.
Do you see the hand of local Congress leaders in it?
The reports of the Congress inviting me were cooked up and had no authenticity. PPP and I have nothing to do with whom the Congress invites or doesn’t.
There are reports that your party could be forging a permanent alliance with the Congress? What do you have to say.
The rumour has been there ever since the PPP came to fore. We had an election alliance with the Congress during the last parliamentary election. We shall cross the bridge when we reach it. We will have to see if the permanent alliance will be a good idea of us. Also, we also reserve our right to have an alliance with any other party.
You floated the PPP as a mission, but it failed to live up to the people expectations. Where is the party now in Punjab’s political scenario?
Wasn’t the Bathinda election a reflection that PPP is still relevant? But as far as politics is concerned, our work is still under progress. To win the people’s trust is one of the most difficult things to do in the world and takes time. The PPP is my baby and I will continue as long as there is satisfaction and pride. Eventually people will come up to us. Many people think that we are not successful, but they measure the success of political parties with membership. We cannot compete in that type of politics as it needs a lot of money, which PPP doesn’t have.
And what about Manpreet Singh Badal himself?
The journey continues. PPP is a mission, but unfortunately Punjab is witnessing politics of personalities rather than issues. We started the PPP about five years ago. Since then it has been one of the most satisfying periods of my life, and also the most productive time of my political career of 22 years. I am not just looking for election success. That is something I resigned from. The party may not succeed in the present times, but it will surely change the agenda for our children.
Is a grand alliance possible in Punjab and will it work?
A grand alliance would be a good idea, but it must be a coalition of ideas and agenda instead of limiting it to the arithmetic to defeat the Akalis. All the parties must be involved and agree on a common minimum agenda, be it economic, political and social, and must also have a clear cut manifesto, besides the ideological framework.