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‘PPP won’t be replica of Congress, SAD’

HT readers asked People’s Party of Punjab president Manpreet Singh Badal about his vision for the state, poll prospects and erstwhile association with the Shiromani Akali Dal. His answers reflected a passionate desire to put Punjab back on track with a no-nonsense, uncompromising approach.

india Updated: Dec 30, 2011 13:39 IST

Q: Why were you silent during your tenure as MLA and minister when Punjab’s problems were the same as they are now? - Harjinder Singh, Amritsar
A: If I had remained silent, I wouldn’t have been thrown out of the party. It was my continuous articulation of what all is wrong with Punjab, relentlessly urging the government to take steps that were necessary for betterment of the state, and refusal to toe the line on matters I felt were detriment to our state, that led to my dismissal by the chief minister and deputy chief minister.

What’s your agenda for Punjab’s agriculture? - Zora Sandhu
The People’s Party of Punjab has a comprehensive plan that involves improvement of the state’s irrigation infrastructure, promotion of food processing industry, setting up of modern warehousing and new grain silos, availability of easier farm credit and giving a fillip to new agricultural research. You can know more about the PPP’s vision towards farmers in an open letter written by me earlier this year. Its text is available on our website ( Specific policy measures would be announced in the manifesto.

What difference you can make to the life of Punjabis? - Navdeep, Ferozepore cantonment
I have posted the PPP’s vision statement on my website. To be honest, all changes that I suggest and policies that the PPP represents are based on the feedback that I have got from the common man during my travels across the state. The feedback has essentially been the same — on how to remove corruption, ignorance, pollution, depravity, intolerance, communalism, unemployment and degradation from the state. The PPP’s sole purpose of existence is to fulfil aspirations of the people.

If voted to power, will you do justice to the agitating private teachers? - Ajit Sibal, Ambala city
In our soon-to-be-released manifesto, we are categorical that teachers be accorded the respect they deserve. It is a shame that governments have treated teachers so shabbily. Any society which treats its gurus so badly is heading towards disaster.

What changes would you bring about in the Punjab police? - Ravneek Singh, Ludhiana
There are major police reforms envisioned, the sole purpose of which is to purge the state police of corruption, increase its efficiency by effective deployment and not to use policemen as gunmen or security minions of ministers, invest in their training, ensure responsibility and inculcate a strong culture of citizen service.

Given that secularism is the hallmark of Punjabiyat, are you for a uniform civil code? - Ravi, Ludhiana
Application of the uniform civil code is the prerogative of Parliament. It is a constitutional matter and hence a decision to this respect has to be taken by Parliament. But yes, the PPP shuns any form of intolerance and believes in communal amity and brotherhood. We derive our inspiration from great martyrs, all of whom were staunch opposers of religious disharmony.

How can Akali and Congress leaders join the PPP and follow your ideology after having spent much of their political career with parties that you blame for every evil in Punjab? Will the PPP be just a replica of the SAD or Congress? - Vishavdeep Kahlon, Faridkot
If the PPP were to turn out to be a replica of the Congress or SAD, why would I have taken so much effort to start this political movement? I was already a minister in the government, I could have kept quiet and chosen to live comfortably. But I realised that someone had to speak up to save Punjab from disaster.

Do you have an effective and sustainable plan to make Punjab drug-free? - Mehboob Singh, Bathinda
Better policing and strict punishment for drug kingpins and mafia leaders are two main deterrents to the drug menace. Unfortunately, both aspects have been ignored in Punjab. The PPP wants to pursue them earnestly. We also have a plan to improve schooling and sport infrastructure to involve the youth. Also, we feel that unemployment is a prime reason driving the youth towards drugs. Once meaningful education and job opportunities are provided, the drug menace would be curtailed.

How would you bring the Punjab economy back on track? How will you tackle social iniquity? - Dr Rajiv, Hoshiarpur
To improve economy, we have to work on multiple fronts — remove fiscal profligacy and improve tax collection so that Punjab’s fiscal health is in good shape. The investment environment has to improve so that we get the right investment in agriculture, food processing, industry and infrastructure. New sectors which have been inexplicably ignored in Punjab, such as information technology and biotechnology, need to be encouraged.

Regarding social iniquity, the PPP believes that it is due to unequal opportunities. So, we plan to invest in primary education, residential facilities and health sector so that there is a basic standard of common amenities available to all citizens.

How can one join the PPP youth wing? - Sorabh, Chandigarh
Visit or our office at any district headquarters. It is a simple process.

First Published: Dec 30, 2011 13:28 IST