Interview Of The Week
Punjab Pradesh Bharatiya Janata Party president, Shri Ashwani Sharma was earlier the Punjab Pradesh president of Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha. He tinged the dash and dynamism of the youth into the vision of a deft organiser. He planned everything in advance and put the party in election mode one year ago. The BJP-SAD alliance will bounce back to power with greater majority not “on the basis of tall promises but on the strength of solid performance”, he says. He is himself contesting from Pathankot assembly constituency. Amba Charan Vashishth spoke to him in New Delhi recently. Excerpts:
How prepared is the BJP for polls in Punjab?
BJP is in top gear to face the elections. It is not that we became active only after the elections were announced. We had been making preparations for the last one year. Our preparations are in full swing down up to the booth level. We organised a big rally on December 23 in Jalandhar which was the biggest in BJP history. It was a display of party unity and strength. The rally held a mirror to the strength of the BJP-SAD alliance. This massive rally was addressed by BJP national president Shri Nitin Gadkari. Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister Sardar Sukhbir Singh Badal also addressed the people. Punjab party affairs in-charge and national vice-president Shri Shanta Kumar and Election in-charge and national general secretary Shri Jagat Prakash Nadha were also there. Workers are brimming with great enthusiasm to ensure the Alliance’s win. In a way the mood of BJP karyakartas appears to be that of celebrating a festival, the festival of elections in the State.
How different is going to be the election scene this time from the previous one?
The only difference is that last time we were in opposition and were seeking people’s mandate on the promise to usher in a clean and efficient administration. Today, we are in power. The BJP-SAD alliance has acquitted itself well by coming up to people’s expectations. We have displayed accountability and transparency. The pace and extent of development during the last five years is itself a record. People recognise this fact. Actually opposition Congress has nothing to find fault with the pace of progress registered under BJP-SAD alliance. All that they are now doing is only threatening the officers and the public that if we come into power, they will wreak revenge using the words like maar denge, kat denge. They have nothing to challenge our work. We are more accountable towards the people. Comparatively the Alliance has done exceptionally well in comparison to previous Congress regimes.
Does the BJP have any problem with the number of seats to be contested or specific seats?
No, not at all. We demanded only 23 seats and we got. We have swapped two seats between each other, but the number of seats BJP will contest remains the same.
Has the nomination of BJP candidates created any problem or dissatisfaction?
In the nomination of our candidates we adopted the criterion of clean image, winnability, commitment towards the organisation and party ideology and contribution towards promotion and implementation of party programmes and policies. The workers and aspirants have taken the party decision in a sportsman spirit to a large extent.
The current election is being held as per the delimited constituencies. Does it affect BJP in any way?
It is the first election after delimitation of constituencies. It is not going to adversely affect us in any way.
What are the BJP chances this time?
BJP has always played a prominent role in the State politics. We will continue to do so in future also. Alliance government is dependent upon BJP. Although BJP is contesting only 23 seats, yet it will make an impact in all the 117 seats. As earlier, this time too BJP’s contribution towards formation of a government in Punjab will be vital and crucial.
What are the issues likely to dominate the election?
24 hour power supply with establishment of 5 new power projects is the hallmark of Badal government achievements. After one year we shall be selling electricity as do we sell agricultural products in the market. During Congress regime there used to be a 7-hour daily power cut. Business establishments were ordered to close at 7 in the evening.
A record 1,10,000 youth were given employment by BJP-SAD government in a most transparent manner. Not a single complaint was received by the government. Every section of society was taken care of by the Government during its tenure.
How far is Manpreet Badal factor going to affect the SAD-BJP electoral prospects?
It will have no adverse impact on the alliance. He is facing problem in his own party. Two of his closest supporters have already deserted him.
Why should people vote for your alliance?
Because the people have seen unprecedented development at a fast pace. We are not seeking votes on the basis of our promises but on the strength of our marvelous performance. We have delivered much more than what we promised. Above all, rampant corruption at the Congress ruled Centre, resentment over UPA’s proposal to allow 51 per cent FDI in retail trade, rising prices and discrimination against Punjab on political grounds will work against the Congress.
Do you think BJP-SAD alliance will be back to power?
Most certainly with greater majority of seats than last time.