The newly inducted Manpreet spoke to The New Indian’s Assistant Editor Urvashi Khona about the inaccessibility of the Gandhis, factionalism in Congress, and that the BJP is no longer a junior player in Punjab
The former finance minister of Punjab, Manpreet Singh Badal joined the Bharatiya Janata Party after resigning from Congress on Wednesday. After being felicitated by Union minister Piyush Goyal at the BJP headquarters in Delhi, Manpreet spoke to The New Indian’s Assistant Editor Urvashi Khona about the inaccessibility of the Gandhis, factionalism in the party that led to 2022 Punjab Polls loss and whether the BJP is no longer a junior player in Punjab.
Excerpts from the interview
Why this shift from Congress to BJP?
I merged my party People’s Party of Punjab with Congress seven years ago with great enthusiasm, so that we could move forward on the agenda of Punjab. But there is great frustration in people like me in Congress because it takes years to secure meetings with the central leadership. There is intense factionalism within the party.
When you mention central leadership, who do you point at?
It takes at least 2-3 years to even secure a meeting. I have never met Priyanka Gandhi in the last seven years. I have not met Rahul Gandhi in the last 2-3 years. I have never Sonia Gandhi. We are in politics to do something. If we are going to be controlled by some coterie, some darbari from the central leadership, we refuse to buy that. There used to be intense envy that there is a party, the Bharatiya Janata Party which imposes discipline and doesn’t allow factionalism. A party that has a track record of taking India forward. Why not join the BJP then?
Many may see this as opportunism.
Where is opportunism here? I merged my party with Congress, which helped the BJP. I was the Finance Minister when I quit. How many Finance Ministers quit their government because they do not go along with the policies of their own government?
How do you see BJP’s position in Punjab?
BJP for a long time has been a junior player in Punjab. But that is not the case any longer. It is an inclusive party. Next election, I can say it will be a contest between BJP and AAP here.