Be it challenges to opponents or not-so-subtle messages for their own party, netas in Punjab have not held back this election season. From Navjot Singh Sidhu and Charanjit Singh Channi to Bhagwant Mann to the Badals, slogans, dares and predictions have raised the tempo of Punjab elections, which promises to be photo finish come March 10, 2022.
In the run-up to the Punjab elections 2022, as political fortunes swung from second to second, the biggest power players of the state spoke exclusively to News18.com.
Here’s a look at top eight interviews of Punjab newsmakers on News18.com:
Kejriwal Will One Day Apologise to Me: Channi
“I don’t pretend to be a common man, I am one,” Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi told News18 during his first door-to-door campaign after being announced as the Congress’ chief ministerial candidate. It was clearly a shot at AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, whose party is not impressed with the CM’s “common man” tag especially after ED raids against his nephew in the sand mining case.
But Channi says he is not bothered. “I don’t care what they say about me. (Arvind) Kejriwal has had to apologise so many times in the past. He apologised to (Nitin) Gadkari and others. He will one day have to apologise to me as well.” FULL INTERVIEW
Channi Will Lose from Both Seats: Bhagwant Mann
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi is fighting the election from two seats as he is scared, and will lose from both Chamkaur Sahib and Bhadaur, Aam Aadmi Party’s CM face Bhagwant Mann told News18 in an exclusive interview in Dhuri.
“Meanwhile, I have a ‘Rangla Punjab’, a model full of joy and glory, ready, glimpses of which will be seen within three-four months of me becoming the CM… I don’t want to make it California, London or Paris, but bring back the old Punjab of bhangra, gidda and wrestling. We will bring back industries to Punjab,” said Mann. FULL INTERVIEW
Only Big B, Sonia Gandhi Can Silence Me: Sidhu
“Disappointments are meant to be cremated, not embalmed”. These were Navjot Singh Sidhu’s words to News18 days before the Congress announced Charanjit Singh Channi as the chief ministerial face. Publicly, the Punjab Congress chief has spoken of unity and going with the party’s choice, but the man who has made opponents across parties and even within his own because of his brusque style of speaking is at a crossroads as far as his political career is concerned.
Dropping another Sidhu-sim, he told News18: “No one can silence me. Only two people can silence me. One is Amitabh Bachchan and the other is Sonia Gandhi.” FULL INTERVIEW
Channi Punjab’s Biggest Sand Mafia: Sukhbir Badal
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi is the “biggest sand mafia” in the region and would be next after his nephew Bhupendra Singh Honey to face action by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal told News18 in an exclusive interview in Badal village in Lambi.
“Channi is the biggest sand mafia of the region, I have been saying this for long. He has siphoned off a couple of hundred crores from the government. It [ED raid and arrest of his nephew] is good and I think next will be Channi himself because he is the mother of everything,” former deputy CM and Akali Dal’s chief ministerial candidate Sukhbir Badal said. FULL INTERVIEW
Won’t Go Back to BJP: Parkash Singh Badal
Sukhbir Singh Badal is the chief ministerial face of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in Punjab elections, 94-year-old Parkash Singh Badal told News18 in an exclusive interview, adding that there was no question of going back to the BJP as the “SAD believes in certain principles”.
“There is clarity on the CM face – it will be Sukhbir Singh Badal. Not like the CM (Charanjit Singh Channi) who is fighting on one side and his brother on the other,” the senior Badal, a five-time CM who is contesting again from Lambi, told News18. “We are a party of principles. Personal connection is one thing, and principles are another… This is why there is no question of going back to the BJP.” FULL INTERVIEW
This Is What My Heart Said: Bikram Majithia
Bikram Majithia is aware that he has a tough task ahead of him. Leaving the safe cocoon of his traditional seat of Majitha, from where he has been an MLA, to contest opposite Congress state chief Navjot Singh Sidhu from Amritsar East is not an easy decision. But “this is what my heart told me”, the Akali Dal leader told News18.
Booked in drug smuggling cases, Majithia has no kind words for his opponent who has actively campaigned for an FIR to be registered him. “It’s true that he won from here because of us that. That time he was with us. Today he is not on our side but with them, so he is now pointing fingers at me. He has used me but I will defeat him,” said Majithia, the brother-in-law of Sukhbir Badal. FULL INTERVIEW
He Tried to Convince Me: Channi’s Brother
Dr Manohar Singh bears a striking resemblance to his brother and Punjab CM Charanjit Singh Channi. So much so that he is following in this brother’s footsteps and contesting the Punjab election. But not on a Congress ticket. Denied one from the party, Manohar is contesting as an Independent from Bassi Pathana constituency.
“He (Charanjit Singh Channi) tried to convince me (to not fight the election), but I convinced him that I need to go into the field and fight… We are a joint family and we live together… People wanted me to fight an election from here as an independent as the Congress high command did not give me a ticket,” he said. FULL INTERVIEW
Not Surprised Congress Didn’t Pick Me to Campaign: Manish Tewari
Manish Tewari, one of the 13 Congress MPs from Punjab, has been snubbed by the party in the list of star campaigners for Assembly elections on February 20. Speaking to News18, Tewari said he saw it coming and, in fact, would have been surprised had his name been included.
“I would have been surprised had my name been included. You ask me the reason? Well, one of them is the fact that I am perceived to be close to Captain Amarinder Singh. I don’t abandon anyone just because they don’t hold a post anymore,” Tewari said. He also didn’t agree with the party logic that Punjab votes along caste lines. FULL INTERVIEW
Kejriwal Like a Behrupiya: Channi
Far from being on the back foot either over alleged cash seizures from the homes of his relatives or the security lapse during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Ferozepur visit, CM Charanjit Singh Channi has sought to turn the tables on opponents with the “Delhi is trying to suppress Punjab” narrative.
Speaking to News18 before he was announced as the CM pick of the Congress, Channi, Punjab’s first Dalit Chief Minister, asked not to be pigeonholed into one category. Taking on AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, he said: “In every election, Kejriwal levels such allegations that are unbearable. He says wrong things and then he apologises. Is insaan ka koi roop aur swaroop nahi hai, yeh toh behrupiya wali baat karta hai.” FULL INTERVIEW
Kejriwal and I are a Twosome: Bhagwant Mann
In an interview with News18, AAP’s CM pick Bhagwant Mann said keeping the team together and reviving Punjab would be his biggest challenges. On his equation with Arvind Kejriwal, Mann said: “Dekhiye ji, jodi ban gai hai (see it is a twosome now). One and one make eleven. Punjab’s responsibility is with me. The ‘Delhi model’, which is famous in the world, is the brainchild of Kejriwal ji. We will work together.” FULL INTERVIEW