CM Bhagwant Mann mortgaging Punjab's future for votes: BJP's Sunil Jakhar

Punjab BJP chief admits that farmers' anger is impacting BJP campaign


Interview/ Sunil Jakhar, BJP president in Punjab

Farmers’ anger is impacting the BJP campaign in Punjab, says state party president Sunil Jakhar. “There is a need to find a holistic solution, and exploiting the situation for political reasons should not be done,” he told THE WEEK. Excerpts from an interview:

Q/ You are not in alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal. Has it made things tough for the BJP?

A/ Of course, it is a challenge. We have been dependent on the SAD for far too long…. Because of the tie-up with the SAD, there was no organisational structure for the polls. But people in Punjab are ideologically aligned with the BJP. Such people can be found in every household. We are trying to mobilise that support.

Q/ Your alliance used to be in national interest and brought two communities together. Has it left the space open for other parties?

A/ The basis of this alliance was national interest and communal harmony…. Irrespective of whether we are in alliance or not, I believe that a strong SAD is essential for peace in Punjab.

Q/ Is farmers’ issue impacting the BJP’s chances?

A/ The issue is having an impact; BJP candidates [are] not being allowed to campaign in some areas.

Q/ Can the Congress’s guarantee on minimum support price help it in Punjab?

A/ How does it help the farmers? Which farmer is ready to give up growing paddy for a guaranteed MSP? Nobody answers this question. Paddy is a water-guzzling crop; not fit for the climate. If jawar gives you Rs100 per acre, and paddy gives you Rs200, which farmer will give it up? These issues need to be addressed holistically.

Q/ The Aam Aadmi Party is replicating the Delhi model of freebies in Punjab. Can that benefit them? And how do you respond to Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann’s 13-0 slogan?

A/ Nobody takes Bhagwant Mann seriously. He comes from a theatre background. He was good at cracking jokes, but what he is doing in the government is a cruel joke. Since Mann took charge, he has been raising debt of Rs130 crore every day, which will have to be paid by somebody. A child born today will grow under a mountain of debt. He is mortgaging our future for votes.