Arab Spring in the Offing in Punjab: Manpreet

Sanjeev Chopra / Badal (Punjab)
Arab Spring in the Offing in Punjab: Manpreet
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 change.

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 expected.

"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 told PTI.

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 decisively.

"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 non-political."
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