- Veröffentlicht: 11. März 2018
Punjab local bodies, tourism and cultural affairs minister Navjot Singh Sidhu tells Aditya Kant and Sanjeev Verma about measures taken to improve sanitation and quality of potable water, and to promote tourism & cultural activities.
How do you rate the Congress govt’s performance in the last one year?
We had no road map and things were in a complete financial mess when we took over. But with the vision of Capt Amarinder Singh, we have managed to bring things on track. A concrete policy has been framed with a vision and work has been initiated in a time-bound manner. Punjab’s problem is that it’s yet to recover from the financial mess caused by the Badals, who were actually the propagators of economic terrorism.
Are you unhappy with the bureaucracy in your government as you have changed a number of IAS officers in your department?
That’s not true. When an RFP (Request for Proposal) is not put before (me) and when another IAS officer is stalling your work, you have to raise your voice. An elected representative cannot be belittled. I have tried to restore the power of legislature which is always bigger than everything else. Having said that, it’s a symbiotic relationship and legislators and bureaucrats are to be mutually respected.
Despite your recommendations, no action has been taken against some PCS officers allegedly involved in irregularities in Mohali MC and the museum department?
I don’t encroach upon and transgress in the territory of others. I have recommended and written strongly, it is for the CMO to take a decision. Whether they want to or not, is their prerogative.
Can a government take its cabinet minister so lightly?
That’s not the case. What has been happening for the last 25-30 years will not go overnight. Today it’s a system which is like Frankenstein’s monster. I have been fighting that system and I have been vocal about it. There are people who would compromise.
Why don’t you sit in the main secretariat — your room is always locked?
Because people have to take ‘parchis (entry pass)’ and face security checks to meet me. Common man comes straight to my office. Do you want poor to wait for two hours to meet me. You look at my performance, point out if I ever missed my work, or any cabinet meeting. Your work should speak.
What are the five most important things you want to do in the remaining four years of your government?
You will agree that even if I continue to make efforts to remove corruption from my department, I will not be able to do it even in next 100 years. But if we implement e-governance completely, it will eradicate corruption from the roots. In 2006, the Centre wrote eight letters to the Badal government for implementation of e-governance. But since ‘Sukha Gappi (Sukhbir Badal)’ has mastered the art of corruption, he never wanted e-governance. It’s we who have now signed a MoU with Nandan Nilekani for egovernance. We have a time-bound vision — in next four months, we will get it done.
In a historic move, the Capt govt plans to bring canal water to the cities. Right now, the canal water is being put in fields. Our government will reverse this trend and bring this water to cities.
Also there is no proper plan here, for drilling and sewerage. The most important thing is sanitation sewage. As many as 64 sewage treatment plants were set up at the cost of Rs 1,300 crore in Punjab during the Badal government and not a single of them is functional. Also, we will couple it with solid waste management. Essential services, called the two-minute (disaster management) services are to be introduced. The Union government had given Rs 90 crore for disaster management, but the Badal government could not spend anything and not a single project was drawn up. An amount of Rs 1.5 crore was sent for the smart city, what did the previous government do? We had no roadmap. There was no policy for fire, drinking water, for advertisements and parking.
Are you satisfied with your portfolio? If you had the choice, would you have chosen something else?
Initially, there were indications that you were not satisfied with your current responsibilities. The only choice I made was, I should take Punjab forward. The only thing I said was that the portfolio, I have is a very important one, but the head is with Capt Sahib and the tail is with me. In the Government of India there is only one urban development ministry. You can’t have parallel power centres pulling each other outside.
You have been critical about your government about the way the Amritsar mayor was chosen. Has anything changed after you expressed your resentment?
I always talk about the system. If it’s my department, I should be allowed to take decisions. Do I appoint sarpanchs in the panchayati raj department? Leave about the decision, at least discuss with me. In democracy, there is a discussion and your opinion is taken. I said and did only that much that was required of me, but I did not let it hinder the development of Amritsar. I was doing it for democratic principles, and not for myself.
You said single window system for NRIs is not effective in Punjab. How can it improve?
Look at the roaring economies of the world. Look at the roaring economy of the states, they digressed towards the manufacturing sector. We are agricultural economy, but we have to digress to the additional source of income. Give farmers additional sources of income, through agro-based industries, through investment from all over the world. If there are 56 windows behind single window, who will come here to invest? Captain Sahib has started ‘connect to your roots,’ but it’s important that it converts into a single window. Let these commissions go, and windows stop.
Tourism in Punjab has hardly witnessed much progress.
No, that’s not true. Punjab is a brand in itself. Amritsar has seen as many as 25,000 more visitors, every day. We are building four circuits and the Union government has agreed to give Rs 100 crores for it.
To run Virasat-e-Khalsa, a sum of Rs 12 crore is required. Emperor Akbar’s coronation took place in Gurdaspur’s Kalanour, we have three takhts. Punjab has so much to offer to everyone. We will have Mughal circuit, then we are going to have a Maharaja circuit. All festivals have been revived. The Patiala Heritage Festival has been revived, World Forum of International Arts will start soon — five ambassadors are coming, six museums are coming from across the world. We are reviving Qila Mubarakpur. The Jagatjit Palace, built in 1908 on the pattern of Versailles, which houses Sainik School Kapurthala has been taken over to be developed into a world class hotel. Sufi circuit is being developed where a Sufiana kalam exchange with Pakistan will be set up. We have 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, Shiv Kumar Batalvi function in Batala, all have been revived. We have asked for Rs 100 crore for developing Jallianwala Bagh. Shaheed-e-Azam venue is being developed and 23rd April is celebrated as the Youth Empowerment Day that would attract some 10,000 people. We are the first ones to form a cultural policy. Surjit Patar has been nominated (as the head of Punjab Sahit Academy). The cultural policy would transcend from Kala Niketan to the villagers of Punjab, at the district and taluka levels. Next is the advertisement policy. Haryana with 84 small cities is earning almost Rs 300 crore from the outdoor advertisement policy, but Punjab from 164 cities is earning just Rs 20 crore and from that Mohali input is Rs 12 crore.
In the present circumstances, do you support tourism and culture exchange with the Punjab province of Pakistan?
Anybody is welcome, but Pakistan has to understand that violence has to end. You can’t be playing cricket with Pakistan, if faujis are murdered every day and innocent people are killed. You can’t play cricket and talk peace when innocent people are massacred and you play nonsense in Kashmir. They have to set an era of peace. Otherwise it’s like eye for an eye and the whole b***** jaw for a tooth.
There was an uproar when you described Virasat-e-Khalsa as a white elephant.
Sukhbir even called you a monkey.
I just mentioned that Virasat-e-Khalsa needs money to the tune of Rs 12 crore. I want to ask Sukhbir Badal, how come his hotels and other business ventures are earning profits when everything else in Punjab is running losses. I call him Sukha Gappi, but I can’t stoop to his level as he is the president of the SAD. I respect Akali Dal. I have challenged him several times for a debate, but he runs away. I told him, ‘Be a man of politics. Come and debate. Call me to the Badal village, I will come there. Sit in front of all the journalists and then you talk.’
How do you look at the recent visit of Canadian Prime Minister to Punjab?
I have already said the 20-minute meeting of the Canadian PM with the CM can take us 20 years ahead. See 1.4% Punjabi population is in Canada and 1.8% is in India. Britishers have not apologised for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, but they apologized for the Komagata Maru tragedy. Anyone who has given respect to the Sikhs needs to be welcomed here.
How do you respond to speculation that the BJP after ending SAD alliance would go it alone in the next assembly polls and may project you as its CM candidate?
I was in the BJP till a year ago, there was nothing of that sort. ‘Kheti sukhaney ke baad bolo barish ho (Wish for rains after the crop has ripened).’ As long as blood is running in his veins, Navjot Singh will stand on the right side of Rahul Gandhi and serve him. The people who got me into the Congress are Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi and Capt Amarinder Singh. I will serve them to the best of my ability till I die, as my father who was in Congress for 40 years did. I am a born Congressman.
So you don’t see yourself as a potential CM candidate in the future?
Why is it that everyone talks about a post? Why should that be? When I started playing cricket, I didn’t think of playing cricket for India for 15 years. It happens, it’s a milestone that comes. Those who ask will never get, those who wish, will never get, but those who are sincere and committed, will have everything sprawling at their feet.
Counterpoint: Sukhbir Singh Badal | Former deputy CM and SAD president
Navjot Sidhu has been successful only in Laughter Challenge. He just talks with no substance. He is a mental guy. To remain in media, he just comes, announces anything and thinks he can generate profit.
Ask him why around 100 AC buses meant for the BRTS in Amritsar are lying useless. Ask him why he is not able to maintain cleanliness at the Amritsar heritage walk. Now he says, I’m ‘Gappi’, but when he was in BJP, he used to praise me from the stage for taking Punjab on the path of development.
This Gappi (referring to himself) promised and ensured Punjab becomes power surplus apart from improving infrastructure. After stopping schemes started by us, the Congress govt now blames us for laying foundation stones.
Quelle/Source: The Times of India, 04.03.2018