Badal (Punjab): Manpreet Badal, who till
last year was with the ruling Akali Dal as its Finance
Minister in the coalition government, feels an Arab Spring is
in the offing in Punjab to unseat the government headed by his
uncle Parkash Singh Badal.
Citing the anti-government protests across the Arab
world, Manpreet feels people in Punjab are also in mood for a
President of newly-formed Punjab People's Party which is
emerging as a third force in the state, Manpreet claims the
results of Punjab elections would be quite different than
"If in the Arab world, in Africa or in Islamic countries,
the girls and women could bring about a revolution, it is a
different ball game in Punjab. People are in a mood to script
a new story this time. You see, the results are going to be a
lot different than what you think... People were sick of this
system and their patience is running out," he said.
Manpreet claimed his PPP-led 'Sanjha Morcha', which
comprises CPI and CPI-M also, said his combine would extend
his support to "whichever party agrees to implement our agenda
or our manifesto in toto".
He said this when asked what he would do if his party
held the key to government-formation.
"Otherwise, we will ask the Governor to order fresh
elections," he added.
Manpreet, the estranged nephew of the Chief Minister, who
resigned as Finance minister when he did not agree with the
state's fiscal policies, feels Punjab's problems cannot be
solved with coalition governments and urged the people to vote
"Punjab's problems cannot be solved by a minority or a
coalition government. The people of Punjab must give a very
decisive verdict. We cannot afford a fractured verdict, even
if it is against PPP.
"They (voters) must give a very decisive verdict and a
decisive government can only take such decisions. Some very
tough political decisions are to be taken and they can only be
taken by someone who is very sure and confident. This system
of coalition government is like throwing Punjab behind by
another five years. Punjab does not have that luxury of
time," he said.
On his party tying up with Team Anna, he said, "We have
higher mountains to climb than just the Lokpal. Our agenda is
much wider. We have drugs, unemployment, we have poverty, we
have all sorts of things to tackle."
On his party's poll plank, he said, "I think we are the
only party probably in India which has come up with a 100-day
agenda. The first thing we are going to do is to effect a 5
per cent cut in non-plan expenditure of every department. We
have a non-plan expenditure of Rs 40,000 crores, we are going
to take out 5 per cent of that and divert that into primary,
secondary, technical, medical education.
Manpreet said his party wanted to reform the police
set-up by depoliticising and delinking the men in uniform from
politics. "That's a big impediment in the growth story of
Punjab. Rule of law must prevail. The entire system of
postings, transfers, promotions has to be out of the purview
of politicians", he said.
On his contesting from two seats, he said, it is part of
election strategy as he did not wish to be confined to
Gidderbaha alone, the seat that he has been representing for
the last four times.
Admitting that the Dera Sacha Sauda votes are quite
crucial in Punjab assembly polls, he said, "I would respect
them much more if they say they that the Dera is