Elections

Farmers Have A Right to Protest. But Why Infringe On Our Right To Campaign? Preneet Kaur

Kaur switched to BJP in March this year after being suspended from Congress last year. As BJP’s candidate this time she is constantly facing the ire of farmers in Patiala—a parliamentary constituency and Congress stronghold for several years.

Tribhuvan Tiwari/Outlook
Preneet Kaur Photo: Tribhuvan Tiwari/Outlook
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Introduction

The 79-year-old, four-time MP and wife of former Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Preneet Kaur, is constantly facing the ire of farmers in Patiala—a parliamentary constituency and Congress stronghold for several years. A former Union minister, Kaur is this time the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) candidate. ‘Maharani sahiba’, as she is fondly called, finds herself in a piquant situation as protesters reach everywhere she goes to campaign. Ashwani Sharma spoke to her on the campaign trail.

Q

You have been with the Congress party throughout your life. What made you join the BJP?

A

I had no option. The Congress had suspended me from the party. All my family members, including my husband and kids, have joined the BJP. The party has fielded me as a candidate from my own constituency of Patiala. I am going back to my people to get elected for the fifth time to Parliament so that I can serve the people, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Q

How difficult is this election for you as the BJP is fighting the Lok Sabha polls on its own strength for the first time?

A

Every election has a different environment. Earlier, there used to be two big players—the Shiromani Akali Dal-BJP combine and the Congress. This time, it is a four-cornered contest. Rather, it is a six-cornered, as the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Akali Dal (Mann) are also contesting. The BJP, you can say, is making its solo maiden entry to the Punjab Parliamentary polls on its own strength. The biggest asset we have is Modi. His able leadership and 10 years of achievements are unparalleled. The nation is safe in the hands of Modiji and Punjab will progress fast once he gets elected for the third time.

Photo: Tribhuvan
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Q

Ever since you began your campaign, the farmers’ are following you everywhere to lodge their protests.

A

Look, farmers have the right to protest. At the same time, we too have the right to freely hold our meetings, rallies and campaign. They are welcome to meet and put forward their point of view. No one is opposed to it. Elections are a democratic process wherein the people get the opportunity to express their sentiments and choose the people of their choice. Once elections are over, we will take up their issues with the new government and find a solution. Modiji has done a lot for farmers across the country.

Q

BJP President Sunil Jakhar has met Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) and asked for directions to the administration.

A

That is right. But the Punjab government led by Bhagwant Mann of AAP has done nothing. It’s true that the Election Commission (EC) has passed specific directions to the police to see that nobody interferes with the BJP campaign or disturbs the meetings of BJP candidates in Punjab.

Q

What are the big issues in Punjab?

A

There are many issues. There are also local issues. But this election is being fought on national issues. It’s about electing a new government at the centre. So, we are focusing on how the country will progress and Punjab moves faster on the growth agenda.

Q

How do you rate the performance of the AAP government which promised to free Punjab from corruption and drugs?

A

I am sorry to say that this is the most incompetent and non-serious government. Corruption is rampant at all levels. Drugs have killed a generation. This is now a problem for every household. I have seen women crying about how families are losing teenagers and youth to drugs. Mann (Bhagwant Mann) has done nothing to save Punjab from drugs. They have spent crores from the public exchequer to issue big advertisements in newspapers and TV channels to promote the party. These are all bogus claims. People will certainly ask them in the 2027 assembly elections as to how they (AAP) have stolen Punjab’s hard-earned revenue to fund AAP’s agenda in the country.

Q

Captain Amarinder Singhji has not joined the campaign. When will he be seen in Patiala?

A

His health was not fine for some days. But he will soon be participating in the campaign.

Q

How many seats do you think the BJP is poised to win in Punjab as a solo player?

A

The BJP, as I said, is fighting this Lok Sabha polls alone. Nationally, we are working on the ‘400 paar’ target. I can only say that we will do well in Punjab. The party has a strong organisational base and people are very much on task to fight this battle. There could be surprises in the election.

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