In an interview with Bhawna Malik, senior leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Bada) and former member of the Lok Sabha, Prof. Prem Singh Chandumajra said that his party will take a decision on the basis of principles. He accused the ruling AAP government in Punjab for governance collapse.
Qn. Your views on the ‘Punjab Bachao Yatra’ since opposition parties are calling it as ‘Party Bachao yatra’?
Chandumajra: Opposition can say whatever they want, but we are getting positive response from the people. Even opposition leader Sunil Jhagar has offered his full support for the yatra. Sukhbir Singh Badal is meeting the people, and the youth is joining in a large number while also sharing their issues with the party.
Qn. How the ruling AAP govt in Punjab is blamed for the crisis in Punjab? What according to you is the biggest challenge for Punjab today?
Chandumajra: The Punjabgovernmentis run by Arvind Kejriwal from Delhi. Punjab is passing through severe economic, social and spiritual crisis. The AAP government has added additional loan of Rs 70,000 thousands crores to Punjab’s overall debt. Besides, the AAP government’s excessive expenditure of Rs 700 crores on advertisements only is bizarre.
Qn. Every Govt spends on advertisements; why is AAP being singled out?
Chandumajra: Earlier Governments never crossed the limit of spending more than Rs 20 to 25 crores maximum for advertisements. What are they advertising?
Qn. Why do you say that Kejriwal runs the govt from Delhi. The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal also calls it ‘Delhi ki Sarkar’?
Chandumajra: An RTI filed by Manish Goyal of Patiala disclosed that the Punjab government is inviting tenders to hire an 8 to 10 seater civilian aircraft jet. Why? Punjab already has a helicopter. The jet hired at a high cost is only being used to ferry Kejriwal to different states for his rallies. Which other government in Punjab in the past has done such a job?
Qn. Unemployment was a concern even in congress and Akali regime and the youth of Punjab migrated to Canada and Australia in great numbers? Why is AAP being blamed for it?
Chandumajra: The people outside Punjab are getting jobs here and locals are left are unemployed. Five out of seven Punjab Police inspectors were from states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan. Jobs are being given to the people from other states. The Rajya Sabha MPs of the AAP from Punjab — Vikramjit Singh Sawhney, Sanjay Singh, Raghav Chadha and Sandeep Kumar Pathak — are not even from Punjab. All of them are completely unaware of the issues of Punjab.
Qn. Senior SAD leaders Sukhdev Singh Dhindhsa and Bibi Jagir Kaur parted ways with the SAD on issues of sacrilege and drifting of the party from its principals.
Chandumajra: Yes, we are in talks with them. Differences do occur in every party but we have a common goal to save Punjab. We have got a positive response from these leaders and soon we might get the good news.
Qn. Bhagwant Maan and Kejriwal have announced ‘Ghar Ghar ration and Shagun Ashirwad’ scheme. What you have to say?
Chandumajra: Bhagwant Maan is just renaming the schemes started by Parkash Singh Badal when he was the chief minister of Punjab. Shagan scheme was started to help Dalit, SC and ST girls for their marriages and the SAD already had Aata Dal scheme free ration to all with BPL cards. Pensions were given to old people. Bhagwant Maan immediately after coming to power stopped all the welfare schemes and also cut the BPL cards known as the ‘Neele’ or blue cards and common man had to suffer families had to go without food.
Q. What you have to say on scope of the SAD rejoining the BJP-led NDA?
Chandumajra: The SAD will decide on an alliance on principles and policies that are for the betterment of Punjab. Blaming the centre by Bhagwant Maan is not the truth in entirety. There was a major flood in Punjab in 2023, and the people were rendered homeless. But the ruling AAP failed to provide relief to the people of Punjab. The report for any calamity or natural disaster has to be sent within 15 days or at the most one month so that centre can release funds accordingly. But for three months no report was sent by the AAP govt in Punjab. How is the centre to be blamed?
Qn. Drug menace, land and order issue were matters of concerns even in the past.
Chandumajra: Law and order situation is at its worst for the past two years. The gang wars and the gangster culture have created fear in the minds of people. The business community and the investors fear for their lives. The police are busy escorting AAP MLA’s to functions and CM Bhagwant Maan’s family members. Hardly, any police force is left at the police stations to listen to common man’s problems.