‘Express anger through the ballot’

Sucha Singh Chhotepur has created a buzz in the political corridors of poll-bound Punjab. First he raised the banner of…

‘Express anger through the ballot’

PHOTO: Getty Images

Sucha Singh Chhotepur has created a buzz in the political corridors of poll-bound Punjab. First he raised the banner of revolt against Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener Arvind Kejriwal for allegedly selling party tickets to undeserving and tainted candidates. Forced to leave AAP after the party accused him of collecting money from volunteers after promising them tickets or posts if an AAP government was formed in the state, Chhotepur floated his own Apna Punjab Party (APP) which claims to be a regional party catering to the interests of Punjabis.

Even as the Congress, Shiromani Akali Dal, Bharatiya Janta Party and AAP are leaving no stone unturned to woo voters, Chhotepur's APP is not far behind when it comes to making promises to the people of Punjab. In an interview, Chhotepur describes the motives behind his party and its plan of action. Excerpts

Q: Your party (APP) claims to be different from other parties on the ground that workers don't strive for tickets.


A: Well this world is a double-edged sword and we have been running the party on the ethics on which it has been formed. We have always followed an agenda that no corrupt, characterless person, land grabber or police tout will be promoted in the party. We are a regional party which can serve the state's people better than counterparts like Congress, AAP and SAD. Congress itself is facing intense infighting and most of their key decisions are being taken by the Delhi leadership. Similar is the case with AAP, whose chief is already facing charges like drug abuse and corruption from his own workers. SAD has also crossed all limits in the past nine years while leading the state into a debt crisis.

Q: The Satluj Yamuna Link (SYL) is a hot issue these days. What is your take?

A: Yes it is and will remain an issue as a large number of farmers have been affected. We are going to file a public interest litigation (PIL) over the SYL issue in the apex court in coming days. Neither Congress nor SAD-BJP government did anything to sort out this issue during their tenure. Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal sat mum over SYL for the past nine years and now, suddenly, he is promising to give farmers land back.

Q: Your party is new and has just got a symbol. Do you think people will recognise you in such a short span?

A: Yes, the party is new but the candidates who have been allotted tickets are renowned and credible faces in their respective constituencies. We have allotted tickets to highly qualified candidates having MBA, PhD degrees, etc. Many of them have worked excellently in their respective fields along with social service. People have shown their faith in our candidates and they are looking for a change this time. We have enough time to get in touch with the people of each and every district and block.

Q: In case you get some seats, with which major party will you be happy to have an alliance?

A: It is too premature to comment on this issue. We are going to contest all 117 assembly seats and we already have an alliance with Akhand Akali Dal. Also, we would not mind the induction of like-minded people. I am sure we are going to register a remarkable win and will come out with a majority.

Q: Is there any chance of a tie-up with your previous ally (AAP)?

A: No, the party has dashed the hopes of many people. Punjabis have never allowed an outsider to rule. The state's people are capable of taking care of their land. I had joined AAP because I was given an assurance that workers from Punjab would be given preference. Later, what happened is well known. Yes, we welcome those who want to join APP after leaving AAP.

Q: There are no big names in your party. How it is going to affect APP?

A: It is not mandatory that a person who is financially strong or a prominent face is a big gun in politics. As I said earlier our candidates are capable of registering a comprehensive win. It hardly matters.

Q: Recently incidents of shoe hurling on the CM and stone pelting at the deputy CM's convoy were reported. What is your take on it?

A: I strongly condemn this. It should not happen at any level of politics. If someone has any issue with political leaders they must express their anger through the ballot. Such activities should never be encouraged. I am sure the people have anger against the ruling SAD-BJP government, but people should follow the path of democracy. They should wait for 4 February to show their anger through the ballot.

Q: Demonetisation is troubling the common public. How it is going to affect the Punjab polls?

A: There is no doubt the common man is badly affected by the move. The decision is good but taken in haste. It should have been implemented in a planned manner. Whether it will affect the Punjab polls or not will be witnessed in the days to come. It may be a matter of concern for those who have black money. Our party candidates are clean and honest so we are least bothered about demonetisation's effects during polls.