New Delhi: Speaking to NDTV about the poll expenditure, Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal said the current limit set by the Election Commission is unrealistic and that "no party fights elections within the set limit."
Here's the full transcript of the interview:
NDTV: Good evening and welcome to Your Call. It's the only show on Indian television where you, the viewer, can speak directly to our newsmaker of the week. Tonight in the winter heat of elections, one of the crucial states is of course Punjab, and joining me tonight is Sukhbir Singh Badal, the Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab and also the President of Shiromani Akali Dal. Mr Badal, thank you so much for coming in. We will first look at the highlights. It's of your life and career. Mr Badal, it's a tough battle for you because Punjab traditionally has a huge anti-incumbency factor, the power always changes hands between the Akalis and the Congress every 5 years. What's going to happen this time?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: This time the history is going to change. We are coming back and it's not a political statement. It's the actual fact. On 6th of March results are out. You remember my words. It's going to be a clean sweep in Punjab. The reason why I am saying is that we have based our campaign on the basis of work done. This is the first time a party in Punjab is campaigning and telling the people that vote for performance, which has never happened. Normally people apologise for the five years and they say give us another opportunity and we will complete our work. Here we are saying, just see our last five years work. If you feel we have done more work than the previous Congress government, then vote for us. If you feel the previous Congress government has done more work than us, then vote for Congress.
NDTV: But one thing that is different this time is that you have a third party, a spoiler, that of course is your cousin, and former Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal. What's the impact of him going to be on the state? Is it going to be a three-corners contest? How optimistic or pessimistic are you in this regard?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Actually Manpreet is more of a media hype because something new has happened in Punjab.
NDTV: But he was the Finance Minister.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Maybe the Finance Minister, but being part of a party and being independent of party is something different. He has formed his own party, and if you look at his party, his party consists of all rejected people from every party. Like he never announced his tickets this time. He was just waiting for Congress and Akali Dal to announce its tickets, and whoever is rejected from all parties he has offered them that please come to me. Can parties be run with an ideology of accepting all rejected people, irrespective of their political ideology? Like you have a combination of Congress, Akali Dal and don't know what all combination he has got that all from different combination.
NDTV: But you have taken Malvinder Singh, brother of Amrinder Singh who has fought against Akalis for the last 30 years in politics.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: We have taken Malvinder Singh as one person; we have not taken the whole party. In Manpreet, the whole party is of rejected, he takes one person or two persons, it's okay, but can't be 99% or 100% of the party is collected from everybody. That's the difference.
NDTV: So was Malvinder Singh a trophy for Akali Dal?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I think it's a big setback for Congress specially Captain Amrinder Singh. Malvinder Singhji was actually a person who actually looked after and nourished Patiala district in the absence of Captain Amrinder Singh. Everyone knows Captain Sahib never came to his constituency. He always stayed away from Punjab. It was actually Raja Malvinder Singhji who worked and looked after the constituency. He expected that, you know this time he will be given an opportunity, but I think Captain Amrinder Singh chose his son over the actual person who deserved it.
NDTV: Are we seeing, what is the political Kurukshetra, that we are seeing in Punjab? We are seeing it in Lambi constituency, also of course where your father is contesting against his brother. There's a first cousin also who is contesting. The family feud which is out in the open in both first families of Punjab.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: It happens, but after election everything will come clearer that certain people are just brand names for the media.
NDTV: The Badals are the brand names.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No, no. Sahib Prakash Singh Badal is a brand. Other people use that brand as a brand name.
NDTV: They franchise?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Not even franchise. They are just using the brand. My father's brother is not a Badal. Badal means it's not a surname, brand is Sahib Prakash Singh Badal. Everyone else starts using that same name doesn't mean you are the same person. They are actually off shoots of the name.
NDTV: But then people will say Sukhbir Singh Badal is also using that brand name.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Yes because I am President of the party and I am part of Mr Badal. I am not misusing it.
NDTV: So you are saying the brand is hereditary?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No it's not hereditary. Yes, because Badal itself has to be hereditary, because it cannot be. I am not saying Akali Dal is hereditary. The Badal brand has to be hereditary.
NDTV: Alright, I am just going to look. You have seen all the criticism that goes on and I just want to play something that Captain Amrinder Singh said about the Akalis just two days ago. Let's just have a look at that...
Captain Amrinder Singh: No, no, I don't know what properties he is showing and what he is not showing and what he is covering up. Of course this must be the official term. What has he been doing in all these crookery, which he has done for five years in Punjab? The mining contracts, the liquor contracts, the buses, the television channels. Television channels give him 1crore a day. So this fast way and through his PTC channel and all. I mean you add those all up and it goes to thousands and thousands of crores in five years. Where is that money? That I would like to know and I hope the income tax is listening and I hope they also look into that. What you have in paper is obviously what you have on paper.
NDTV: Captain Amrinder Singh making a point on corruption, he has charged you of being the owner of PTC channel. There have been charges of Trident in Gurgaon, saying that your assets are much more than what you officially declared for around 77 crores.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: All my properties or whatever assets I own are on my Income Tax records. I said it even when we were in Opposition and Captain Amrinder Singh was the Chief Minister. He became the Chief Minister, that time he used to mention 3500 crores, he talked about nightclubs, he talked about farms.
NDTV: Sheep farms in Australia?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Sheep farms all over the world. He became the Chief Minister, he put his whole government with one mission in five years, to go and locate and find out something against the Badals. His own government after doing everything, search for five years inclusive the government of India's help, they filed a charge sheet against us of 76 crores. Was total charge sheet against us of 76 crores after saying 3500 crores. So you can see the difference between 3500 crores and 76. That also they made a manipulated game because they couldn't have said that everything is right. Then they referred our case to the IT department. IT department re-opened all our cases for the last 10 years, they went through whole things, returns again, valuations everything. Income Tax gave us a clean chit, the courts have given us a clean chit. What else does he want? He has got a habit, actually what happens is he never mentions, if you look at Captain Sahib's speeches in the last five years, he has never been to Punjab. He comes only before the elections and never ever mentions what he has done during his tenure. Its only agenda is Badals, just keep on throwing mud on the wall. He thinks if you throw mud something will stick. Like last time he said 3500 crores. His own government couldn't prove a single thing, we have been acquitted. For his kind information there are four cases of corruption against him. He is talking about corruption there are four cases against him. Punjab Assembly unanimously passed a corruption case in the Improvement Trust case, there's a city centre scam going on against him, what is he talking about corruption?
NDTV: But is the irony, the fact that even the people of Punjab say that this corruption charges have become like vendetta politics. When he came to power, you and your father actually went to jail, then till you got a bail, at that time with these corruption charges. When you all came to power suddenly these corruption charges came against him as well. Where does the truth lie?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: There's a difference, the corruption charges came against him during his own tenure, the case against him, city centre was under his own tenure and the other cases were by the High Court and under his own tenure, we never filed. It was the last four years. We have not filed, the same cases which were investigated in his tenure and the officer under him gave his verdict, not us.
NDTV: So you are saying it wasn't done because of political vendetta?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No, not at all. From day one if you might have noticed in the last five years, you might have seen all my news reports or hear all my speeches, I don't even mention anything against him. In his speeches he calls me various names, he calls my father various names, then he stands on the stage and he tells the people to beat up the Akalis, you break their legs. Can a person who wants to be a Chief Minister say break the law, break legs and make false statements? This is what he has been up to, and that is the reason, when you say people have judged him, that's the reason. If you look at our campaign, now we don't even mention about Captain Amrinder Singh. We don't even mention about vendetta politics. We just talk about performance.
NDTV: But he says you all have targeted him, especially his friendship with Pakistani journalists. He says the most degrading or derogatory personal comments have been made about him and his personal life by the Akalis.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Last five years have you ever heard in our comment we even mentioned his name, the Pakistani journalists?
NDTV: Then he says PTC channel etc, is all run by you.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Yes, it is owned by me. Everything is in my income tax records, you look at the income tax records it's shown there. I don't deny anything that is in my records. But what I say is whatever he has been accusing, none of them I am involved in. He has without, see either you give specific examples, you just keep on talking, like throw mud, you keep on throwing things, you know maybe that something will stick. People think okay, maybe this, maybe that, but you know just 10 days just throw mud and get out of it.
NDTV: Questions about the Trident have been raised by newspapers as well. What exactly is the nature of your involvement or your ownership of the Trident?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Yes, I own it. This project was started. I bought this land in the year 1987. 1987 where, at that time, Gurgaon hardly existed. That time I remember maybe one or two buildings in Gurgaon were coming up. That's the year we got this land, then Haryana Government, at that time Bhajanlalji, came into power, he forcefully took it away. We fought the cases in the High Court, one in the High Court went to the Supreme Court. We won it in the Supreme Court. After Supreme Court gave us the land back in the year 2000, then I built this hotel in 2000, and then the next hotel has come up. Everything is on my record. It's a part of my records since beginning.
NDTV: Alright let's just go across now to questions that we have got from our viewers, from people who want to ask questions to a man many see as a possible future Chief Minister of Punjab. Let's just hear what they have to say.
Viewer 1: I am living in Punjab from past five-six years and there are regular power cuts for six-seven hours every day and it affects our daily lives so much. I would like to ask if the Badal government comes again, what should we expect regarding this matter?
Viewer 2: I am DK Ghai from Punjab. I want to ask Sukhbirji only one question, are you a politician or a businessman?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: What?
NDTV: Are you a politician or a businessman? Okay I would just interrupt that for a minute Mr Badal, because I have a caller on line, who wants to ask you a question and that is Harsimrat Kaur Badal, and ma'am go ahead with your question for Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal: What I would like to ask him is that Kabbadi was a passion and a vision, which he saw for rural sports to uplift it in Punjab. While I saw him work really hard, and besides giving gyms in every village and kits everywhere and then holding the World Kabbadi Cup, which brought a lot of limelight on this rural sport, which was almost dying out. But what I would like to ask him is, why is it that the women's Kabbadi team got a prize money which was much less, and what is he going to do to promote sports amongst women in the times to come, and when can they hope to get equal weightage as the men as far as the sports is concerned?
NDTV: Your wife is saying that you are discriminating women. Why is that Mr Badal?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Actually, Kabaddi was basically a men's sport. Last few years we encouraged it, encouraged women to participate in it. So first World Cup was only for men's Kabaddi. This time I wanted to encourage women. Can you imagine, the first time four nations from abroad, who never heard of Kabaddi. We sent coaches there they got their women Kabaddi teams here. So as an introductory offer we gave them prize money of 25 lakhs because it was just new to them. Next year onwards we are going to keep it as equal. You will be very happy.
NDTV: That's good to hear. Harsimrat Kaur there's a commitment from your husband that he is going to make it equal.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal: I think Sonia while this is going so good that you are getting the commitment, can we quickly take another one?
NDTV: Of course.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal: Sukhbir, the next thing is that, just like it was your passion to revive Kabaddi, I have been after you for the last one year that to make women's education go further. The biggest thing lacking was lack of a transport system which would connect those rural villages, where the education was not till class 12, with those villages where it was till class 12, and I had asked you to set some kind of a network of maybe small transportation or big transportation. Some permits such where girls could also get via media to go and get education, you know to a higher level, because the buses do not take the girls, and the parents don't want to send the girls out of the village, and every village does not have a class 12 school. So will you put this vision of mine into place and may that come through the way that you did your own?
NDTV: And Mr Badal I have to ask, has it surprised you how well your wife has taken to politics?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I think it's coming dangerous. I think she is more passionate than anybody else.
NDTV: Did that surprise you when you chose, when your father first chose her, a lot of people said, 'Oh! She is a novice why bring, just because she is a daughter-in-law she is being brought into politics.' Has it surprised you and your father and all the critics?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: First of all when she wanted to get married, one condition she kept to her father was, don't get me married to anybody who is in politics, and second anything to do with agricultural land. She wanted to stay in Delhi. That was her passion, but she has got a politician and she got a farmer.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal: And married to a politician.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: And married to a politician, now she has become a politician so that's good. I think that, I have always told her, that whenever somebody says don't do that, it always happens, but I will tell you something, she has done a good job. She has created her own space in politics and she is very passionate about women issues.
NDTV: And of course.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: She started a 'nani shaan' campaign.
NDTV: And in Punjab there are huge issues such as female foeticide.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Female foeticide taken up very passionately and it's the two things that she mentioned, one was Kabbadi I have given you answer to that. The second was the transport problem for girls. I think she has been raising the issue and this is going to be one of the priorities in our coming government, link up these small villages with the nearest schools. We are planning to introduce these small maxi cabs or buses types of things, which from village to village they are connected, especially to the schools, because that's the only way girls can go to school, especially in the interiors.
NDTV: Well I am happy that both of you are confident that Akalis are coming back into power in the middle of this hectic campaign, but hopefully this vision for improving a lot of girls in Punjab will come true. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, thank you so much for joining us tonight on this show.
Harsimrat Kaur Badal: Thanks Sonia.
NDTV: Thanks very much, as I said, in the middle of the campaign there. We will just go back to the Chandigarh questions and what they were saying.
Viewer 1: I am living in Punjab from past five-six years and there are regular power cuts for six-seven hours every day and it affects our daily lives so much. I would like to ask if the Badal government comes again, what should we expect regarding this matter?
Viewer 2: I am DK Ghai from Punjab. I want to ask Sukhbirji only one question, are you a politician or a businessman?
NDTV: So these questions are from urban Punjab, powercuts?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Regarding power, power problem is throughout the country. None of the states have taken an initiative to make it power surplus. Power is not something you can import, you can't get it from US or you can't get it from UK, like you can import anything, you can import cars. If you are short of something you can import it, power you can't import. When we came into power there was a massive power problem in our state. Total generation of Punjab power was 5000 megawatt and the demand was 9000 megawatts, merely 50% we were producing. Obviously there has to be power cuts and extra power is not available in any part of the country. Everywhere there is a power shortage, so what we did is the answer to that, was you built up your power plants.
NDTV: On one hand you have the policies which in fact Manpreet Singh Badal, at that time, had protested against, free power to farmers. So on the one hand ...
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I said something else that has got nothing to do with the power shortage.
NDTV: But how do you generate power if you see huge loses in power in every house?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: That free power is compensated to the power corporation; the government of Punjab gives money to them. It's not that the power corporation is losing something. They get the full money.
NDTV: But the government of Punjab takes the head ...
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Yes subsidising them, like government of India subsidises diesel or petrol. It doesn't mean that the petrol companies are going to lose. They get the money here. Same way the companies are getting money. The question was how do we make it surplus? The only answer to that is build your own power plants. That's what we did. Never before in Punjab power plants have been built, the old power plants going on for last 10-15 years. We immediately came in, from day one started setting our power plants and power plants of the size of 3000 megawatts. Can you imagine our total production in seven-eight power plants was only 5000. Now under construction is approximately 7000-8000 megawatts under construction, and we have tied up with long-term contracts, with lots of power plants, which are all over the country, which are coming up. So today the reason power problem is there, because there is a shortage there. Next year onwards all our power plants, which are under construction, will be operational and we will be power surplus. Like wheat and rice we will be selling power to other states, so at that time we will be having 24 hours power, and this is one of our major achievements of our government.
NDTV: Hopefully voters will be happy with that answer. But the other questions raised on corruption, some are about questions relating to you, the other one asking about candidates, criminal candidates selection.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Gentleman mentioned the name of Mr Makkar, murderer, they mentioned persons like Makkar who murdered. First of all Mr Makkar never murdered anybody, it was his nephew who was in a fight with his best friend. The person who got murdered was his nephew's best friend, childhood friend. On sitting in a dhaba, after drinks they fought with each other and one guy got killed. So first of all it was not Mr Makkar, it was his nephew, and his fight was with his best friend, a childhood friend, so how do we call?
NDTV: So you are saying it's not a true report?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Everyone knows that Mr Makkar has got nothing, like for example, my friend murdered somebody, that doesn't mean I have murdered them and I am a murderer. And okay, if that person is a professional murderer, professional criminal, then that's a different story. Here the two best friends, childhood friends from very good families.
NDTV: So the question about corruption that he asked about, all the reports about which the Congress has made, and the other boy made a point, that for an average person not only in Punjab, but in India, corruption seems to have taken such a grip of their lives. The whole Anna Hazare movement, the anti-politician movement has, in fact, that spirit behind it. How has the Anna Hazare movement worked in Punjab and how do you answer voters like that?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Corruption cannot be eliminated by making laws, there's a law for murderers, has murder stopped? There's a law against theft, has theft stopped? How will corruption be eliminated, if you eliminate the cause of corruption: interaction. Corruption happens when there's an interaction between public man and the government departments and officers. The minute you reduce or eliminate the interaction there will be no corruption. So the first step, which we have taken in our government, is more powerful and much better solution to corruption than even the Lokpal bill. Two things we have done in our state, one is Right to Service Act. Under the Act 80 services have been identified where it's come right. Right means days have been fixed, for this work 24 hours, this work 36 hours, this work 10 days, this work 20 days.
NDTV: And delivery of services?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: And delivery of services in one day. Beyond that day that person, who was supposed to deliver that service, will have to be penalised financially, and the money, which we penalise, the exact amount is also written. We cut from the salary of a government employee and give to the person whose work he has not done, and a department action against that person. So one, now people have the right to know that within so much time I will get my license, I will get my permit or I will get this. If he doesn't now, he has a right that okay, he will have to be penalised. There will be pressure now on the bureaucrat and the concerned babu that he has to deliver within that time, or otherwise he will be penalised, that is one aspect of it. Second aspect is reforms. In our state we have done massive reforms. Shall give you a small example. You buy a car today in Delhi or anywhere else in the country the dealer gives you the car. You take the papers from the dealer, then you go to the RTO office to get a number, a registration and everything, so the RTO people, there are dealer, sub-dealers outside who take your money to get the work done, and everything, that means it's corruption there. What we have done in our state is that we eliminated that. We have taken a law where the dealer you buy the car from, you go to a car dealer and you buy a Maruti 800. Go to him, he will give you brand new car and the number and the RC. So you don't have to go to the government department.
NDTV: So I think that will change what everyday people are talking about.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Yes, secondly I will give you another example like land records. If anybody in Punjab or Canada, America living, they wanted a copy of land records they had to go to the Patwari. In our state now you can online, we have computerised all records. You can be sitting in Canada or America or in your house, punch in your name, village and district, you will get a photocopy of that attested land record, so you don't have to go to Patwari. That means you don't have to pay the Patwari.
NDTV: That is a major achievement, but let me just come back, because I have somebody online to ask you this question. He is of course somebody who's always taken googlies with a straight bat. I have got Navjot Singh Sidhu of the BJP to ask you this question. Hi Navjot, thanks for joining us tonight and Mr Badal. But can I ask because you are Navjot Singh Sindhu, I just want a Siddhuism from you for Mr Badal. Come on, you are not a bowler, but you can spin him a googly.
Navjot Singh Siddhu: Well Sidhuism is for my elder brother Sukhbir praji. All I will say is the darker the berry, the sweeter the juice. With age he has matured into a seasoned statesman, and I repeat statesman, and when I say that it's basically I have seen paaji for the past 10 years, from a very flamboyant, very angry young man into a matured seasoned politician. So that's the Sidhuism, the darker the berry the sweeter the juice. Am I right or not?
NDTV: Let me throw you back a Sidhuism and ask if the Akali-BJP comes back, then whom would you want to see as Chief Minister? Do you want statesman or the elder statesman as Chief Minister?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: That is unfair. You put him in a tight spot.
Navjot Singh Sidhu: Well, I would say the first person who would be very glad if his father would be the Chief Minister is paaji Sukhbir, because I had a conversation with paaji Sukhbir, and he said that my father knows nothing (else), he gets up in the morning and he eats politics, he drinks politics, he sleeps politics. It's like a tidal wave, which engulfs him completely in every pore of his body, just thinks politics, whereas Sukhbir paaji is a born businessman. You know, you will go to the market and you will find two-in-one, three-in-one paajis all-in-one. So he can deal with it, he can deal with anything. But Sardar Prakash Singh Badal is an icon now. You know a person who will be Chief Minister for the fifth time, and I have learnt half of my politics looking at him. He is a great role model, that's why I feel he would be the better choice because paaji himself says so.
NDTV: We will ask just both of you, that why is that both of you seem to want your wives in politics, isn't a one person in family enough, why both of you all? One of course's wife is already in politics, and now your wife is contesting as well?
Navjot Singh Sidhu: Well let me put things in a very straight line. At first politics has concerned neither me, nor my wife ever asked for a ticket. I refused the ticket for the first time where six leaders rang me up. I was commentating with Imran Khan in Pakistan and I am probably the only MP who fought that election in 13 days. I had said no, but in the end Atal Bihari Vajpayee Sahib's voice prevailed. Then the second time the case broke out. I said I am not fighting and they said why? Fight the seat. Ask paaji, I asked Jaitley Sahib to fight that. The third time again I was forced, this time Sardar Sukhbir Singh Badal came up to me and said, if you want a winning, Captain, it has to be your wife, I refused. In the meeting I refused and again Mr Gadkari finally put his foot down and said we want winning candidates. It's a head-to-head battle, we want winning candidates and that's the criteria. So it's the choice and not the charm that determines your destiny, that's how I put it.
NDTV: That's definitely true. Thanks so much Navjot Singh Sidhu for joining me and Sukhbir Singh Badal tonight. Mr Badal many would say that you all attacked the Congress with dynasty politics, but how can, at least in Punjab, the Akalis and BJP attack the Congress?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I never attacked Congress for dynasty politics ever.
NDTV: Harsimrat did just yesterday.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: The reason, why I am saying is that, overall, if you look at the whole political scenario in the country, it is a dynastic politics. Not only in India, look at US, the Bush family.
NDTV: But is that a good thing to implement?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: It's not dynastic politics, a doctor's son becomes a doctor, you appreciate it, a lawyer's son takes over his father's business, people appreciate it. In politics it's a little different. You can be once elected on your father's name, you cannot be repeated on your father's name, if you have not performed. Here people judge you by your performance. I can give you hundreds of examples. We have political sons that have collapsed or failed. Few who survived or performed, so it's not sons are forced into it. People can be forced once, first time yes it can be, but not the second, third, fourth or the fifth. It is the person people look at, judge the person, and then they vote and then they elect.
NDTV: We were talking about corruption; we were talking about the Acts which you have actually implemented. But I think Anna Hazare movement also raised large-scale political corruption in the system, the issue the Election Commission has raised, the issue of black money in the system in Punjab and in UP, we have seen black money being seized. Now your father Mr Prakash Singh Badal has been quite harsh and saying that the Election Commission is exceeding its constitutional brief with some of the measures it's taking. Do you think black money in elections is a reality?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: My father's statement has been overstated by the media. He did not say that Election Commission is crossing its brief. What he said was its certain officers, suddenly changed all the officers in the state especially in the police. What happens is you are in the election time in 15 days, a new officer comes, he doesn't know the logistics of his new district. By the time he will understand, the elections are over, so a new man coming suddenly, you take over the reins, which has huge districts. You know it's difficult. So he just suggested and he never ever said that you know it's crossing the brief. The Election Commission has his own role, we appreciate the role, and we always abide by what they say, and we will always abide what Election Commission tells us, and we will do what they tell us to do.
NDTV: The issue of black money in elections, especially in Punjab where they say is the one reason why everybody is from political families, powerful families, is because without a few crores, there's no question of winning an election in Punjab, especially a rich state like Punjab.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: It is not black money in Punjab. This expenditure in elections is an all India phenomena. I was told that compared to Punjab, other states are 10 times, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, I was told is huge. But the difference is like what black money, which is happening here, what we are now collecting, now you see in UP or whatever it is or Punjab, that is not the black money or whatever it is. What I have understood, like being a Home Minister, I found out what are these cases. They have got somebody's wedding in the family; he has taken five lakhs to buy jewellery, and is suddenly caught by the police. Okay, take the money, somebody wants to buy a property, he has got that, this thing, so now it has become a panic that nobody is doing any transaction, weddings have been postponed, because if you look at it nobody buys jewellery from cheque or nobody can take out cash out of his hand.
NDTV: No but then without reforms that, tell me, can any political party today, is there any political party fighting elections within the Election Commission's limit?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: That's the reason, what I am saying, is that nobody name anybody, name one person.
NDTV: The Left may be?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Even the Left. This is just a talk. See laws have to be realistic.
NDTV: I think 25 lakhs is the limit.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: The figures have to be realistic, the figures have to be realistic.
NDTV: You are saying 25 lakhs is not a realistic figure?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: It should be a realistic figure and let there be a realistic figure like when we used to have 80% tax on income tax. There hardly used to be any taxpayers, when it reduced to 30% more people have started paying tax. So if you make a realistic picture so people will automatically remain within the realistic norm.
NDTV: So what is the realistic estimate? I am not addressing it personally. What is the realistic estimate today to fight election?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I cannot, see it's a very hypothetical situation. It depends on constituency to constituency, location to location, region to region, so it's not a hypothetical thing that this hallmark is for everything.
NDTV: No, I am not saying that the Akalis or the Congress ...
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No I am saying anyway...
NDTV: ... like for say Lok Sabha elections what will be the realistic estimate, what would you like the EC to change it?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I think for a Lok Sabha election, minimum a crore. It's nine constituencies and if you look at the transportation, the expenditure, other things there are so many things which happen all over the logistics. There will be 12 lakh people to be communicated to.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Look at the US election, US President's election is maybe billion dollars, maybe 3000 crores, because they are realistic they declare everything. All their receivables have been declared, wherever they get donations from and their expenditure is also being declared but if US said only one million for fighting a US presidential election you think anybody must have shown anything.
NDTV: I think that's an interesting point that they have to be realistic and inflation obviously in every area.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Inflation is going up.
NDTV: Especially in politics as well, so perhaps a more realistic estimate maybe one option now for the elections.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Because it was 16 lakhs five years back, it can't be 16 lakhs today. Inflation is normal, bank interest doubles the money and if here something was 15 lakhs, after five years it should at least be 30 lakhs, if it was 30 lakh it should be 60 lakhs.
NDTV: But the worry then, of course, is how many people are excluded, given the reality of India today? How many people who are not from a powerful family or a political family, how does it exclude people?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No, that doesn't mean if you put a limit of one crore, that means, nobody can who can spend 10 lakhs can't fight elections, that doesn't mean that.
NDTV: Won't money power win?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No it doesn't mean that. Even now it doesn't mean that. The limit means at least people start showing the actual things. Its better that things come in open.
NDTV: Exactly rather than ...
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Rather than making under it.
NDTV: ... Rather than making it illegal.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: That's what I am saying when people start, when you give amnesty, the black money everybody declares. We can give amnesty, you can see crores coming in. Okay there's a 10% tax or 20% tax but since the taxation regime has come nominal you see the income of the state has also increased. The country's income tax collections have increased and people have now diverted from black economy to white economy. Today everyone wants to buy from cheque and show everything white because taxes are reasonable.
NDTV: That's an interesting point, we have asked you questions from Chandigarh, let's go across to people from Delhi also who want to ask questions, let's hear what they have to say.
NDTV: I think everybody wants to ask about corruption some way or the other.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I think the answer to corruption is Punjab. Our reforms which we have done are Right to Service Act, you just implement that and Sonia, I am telling you, if you do a complete analysis of what we have done in Punjab, in reforms, you will be amazed that it has eliminated the interaction between the public and the government servants. Since the whole reform process is just brand new you will see the next one or two years, you will see the corruption level being eliminated and next, when we come back to government, we will make more services under Right to Services Act we will eliminate it completely. We didn't have then time, because it requires a lot of changes in laws. But as soon as we come back, from day one we will make sure that in the next two years there should be no interaction between a common man and the government bureaucracy, make things so systematic and automatic, that you don't need to get into paying anybody.
NDTV: You made an interesting point about realistic estimates and you had a lot of people ask that which the assets you declared of nearly 77 crores, how is that you only own a tractor?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Tractor what happens is that I own a tractor, my other family members own a tractor, our farming is joint, in my land my name, my father's name, so it's not that we are separate people. My father and me are joint, so things are joint. Look at individual accounts in your individual names, that's the difference.
NDTV: And everybody. How is it that your wealth has gone up so much, that's just good investments or property?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No the same property was in because you are supposed to declare your market value today, so when your 54 crores has become 76 in five years the same thing has increased. So there are a lot of people who want to show under value. In my returns, which have been scrutinised by government again and again.
NDTV: They are looking for something?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: They are looking for something, have given us a clean chit. Exactly what is in my income tax returns is in my declaration.
NDTV: Many have talked about your style being different from your father's. Are you a much more CEO style or you see yourself as a CEO in a way in the policies of the state? One interesting aspect has of course been the Akalis, change your stand on FDI and multi-brand retail and many farmers in Punjab had initially supported it. And Akalis then changed suddenly when the BJP opposed it. Do you believe the economic policy should be governed by political ideology or should it be determined by what's good for the state and farmers?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Actually the whole thing was misinterpreted. What we said in our FDI stand was that the government of India should take into account every stakeholders' views before just announcing it, that's what we said. You keep in interests the views of the farmers, take in account the views of the traders so that there's a compromise, and like you are going to make a drastic change, you are going to get something brand new. So at least involve the stakeholders, get their views and then whatever is the best, come out with a solution, rather than you just come and announce that this is done.
NDTV: No the government said that they had a Standing Committee reports and NDA had first brought in the idea of FDI in retail.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: See what happens is this standing ...
NDTV: You were in Commerce also at that point of time.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No I was in Industry.
NDTV: Oh, you were in industry when the NDA had first come up with FDI. So do you really oppose FDI?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Whatever I said, I was the person who gave the letter in the beginning also, but I said after that at least involve the stakeholders, get the view of the trader's organisations, people's organisation and you know eliminate all their fears. There may be some fears which may not be fears, but maybe they have perceptions, you should get them on board, clear and if some amendments are required make those amendments and come out with a consensus.
NDTV: But that's a different thing that you support FDI or not?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: There's something different, foreign direct investment is coming everywhere, foreign direct investment is coming in every sector, in retail there is a fear among traders that suddenly we will be left jobless. That fear has to be eliminated.
NDTV: But do you think in the long run it will benefit farmers, do you think it should come after consultation?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: If it is with consultation and if it is with the amendments suggested by and after eliminating the fears of the trading community, if there's a consensus, then why not. If it's with consensus then there should be no issue, but without consensus unilaterally you declare FDI, without eliminating fears of the trading community and others, I think that's not right.
NDTV: Well we had questions from Punjab and agrarian states, we have some questions from farmers as well, let's just hear what they have to say.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I want to answer the question on industry also.
NDTV: Well the questions they asked is, one is that farmers saying that we are in a bad state and there are reports of suicides in Punjab, are they?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: There were cases of suicides.
NDTV: I think one farmer question is about suicides in Punjab and what are you all doing for farmers? The second question was that there is a glut in our product, we get bad prices from wholesalers, so what do you plan to do about that? So those were the questions. So Mr. Badal, we had a question on industry and what you are doing for industry and from the farmers also talking about wholesale prices, we see potatoes being thrown on the roads by the farmers and Punjab actually seeing suicides of farmers as well.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: We have been always saying that agricultural pricing and cost is determined by government of India, nothing to do with the state government. The prices of the products is set by the government of India, the cost of inputs are also set by the government of India, we don't have any role to play. That's the reason we say if you leave it open, let farmers have a market price or link it to the price index, automatically agriculture will become profitable. Now what is happening, the cost of the inputs is increasing, government of India is not increasing the price of the products, of the agriculture products at the rates which should increase. They are ready to import the same product from Australia, Canada, all over the world at 50% or 100% more expensive, but are not ready to pay Indian farmers.
NDTV: Isn't it contradictory, because on one hand the government says 'Oh we bring in free market, bring in FDI then you oppose us'?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No, it has got nothing to do with FDI.
NDTV: No, but the free market policies you oppose us.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No, no.
NDTV: UP will be in crisis if there's free market for sugarcane, because there was a glut of it so how do you ....
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I will say what happens is, this has got nothing to do with FDI. Like for example rice, why don't you open export? But you limit the export, you just keep it tight and when it is not required to be exported, you export and at the same time huge stocks are lying of wheat or rice which are being destroyed.
NDTV: In Punjab it's lying in the open.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: They are not ready to export those and let the fresh stocks come in. There's a problem of lifting, so all these problems are under the direct control of government of India. We are just sitting outside because we cannot determine. Only thing we can do is incentivise, like we have given free power, we have given one free power and every state is criticising us.
NDTV: So you are saying that's what you can do for farmers, what about industry?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Now what we want from government of India, they should encourage, like potatoes is under government of India. Government of India should immediately start exporting potatoes. If they start exporting potatoes automatically the sentiments will lift up, even announcement will start lifting up, so you know government of India should take pro-active decisions. Like you mentioned me as a CEO, what does a CEO do? Every day he sees what is good for his company. Here government of India doesn't see anything for 1-2 years. You have to look at everyday what is good for the nation, what is good for the farmers, take decisions on a daily basis, not on this thing.
NDTV: That man asked you about Industry.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: What is the base of the Industry? It's power. What is Punjab? Punjab is a land-locked state, away from the ports, away from the main industrial centers. We are land-locked. One side is Pakistan the other side is troubled Jammu-Kashmir and the hill states. Government of India has given incentives to all the states around us, why will anybody come here? So how do we make it attractive? The only way to make Industry come here is that give them cheap and 24 hours power. The reason we have set up the power plants is going to be, and next year when we will have power surplus, we will be the only surplus state, that will be one of the biggest incentives. Second thing what we have done is connectivity, in our state we have got cleared from government of India three international airports, one is Amritsar, already operational, Mohali will be operational within one or two months and one near Ludhiana. Connect our state internationally because we can't have a port, so create airports. Third on infrastructure in our state, in next two years all major towns of our state will be connected with four airline expressways. When I say all, I mean all major towns. Some of the projects are under construction; some tenders have already come in. Some projects are in the implementation stage so they will be all complete. So when we will create best infrastructure state, once we have a best infrastructure state that will become a biggest incentive. Fourth thing is Punjab is the highest consumer market.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Consumerism is going to be one of our key areas.
NDTV: We are nearly at the end of the show and we have your wife online with us.
I just want to play you, well it's a record from last election, let's just play that and see what that is.
NDTV: Politics is a family business, why is that in the Akali Dal?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I think ask him that question after 25 years, maybe it's a different answer that time.
NDTV: That means he will be in politics?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: No I am not saying that, I am not saying he will be. He has to decide his own life but that's too young age to take a decision. I think we will leave it to him. Whatever he decides, if he wants to get into business or wants to take a job or whatever he wants he is free, I would like my children to decide on their own.
NDTV: We have said your father is of course the official candidate for the Chief Minister and he is doing very well in his 80's. If the Akalis come back to power, you are already Deputy Chief Minister; will you be Chief Minister?
Sukhbir Singh Badal: I as the President of the party announced in front of lakhs of people, in our rally about a month back, that my father is going to be the Chief Minister candidate when we come back to power.
NDTV: We are almost at the end of the show but of course among all the action and heat in Punjab politics there's always some fun also. My last question is from Jaspal Bhatti. Let's hear what he has to say.
Jaspal Bhatti questions
NDTV: Final question.
Sukhbir Singh Badal: Last five years there has never been, the answer, which I gave you in the beginning, that there is no anti-incumbency in our government in Punjab at the moment. When there is no anti-incumbency, it clearly shows that we gave a government, which people have liked, so if they have liked this government we will try to perform much better next time. Because through experience lots of projects of ours which we dreamt of are in various stages. Continuity in the government is essential for the speed of the development to continue, so that's the reason. If you look in our CAD campaign we just talk about our performance, that we have performed, give us another opportunity so that we can perform better. We may have made mistakes in the last five years, we have learnt from our mistakes, next five years we will make sure that we don't make mistakes.
NDTV: Well Sukhbir Singh Badal, all the very best and let's see what happens on March 6. But thank you so much for taking out so much of time to speak to me tonight. Thank You.