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The Rediff Interview/Parkash Singh Badal, former Punjab CM

July 08, 2003

Parkash Singh Badal, the former chief minister of Punjab, is a worried man.

He is being hounded by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau that raided his properties in Punjab, Haryana and Delhi to unearth evidence to prove in court that Badal and his family amassed huge wealth during his five-year tenure as chief minister.

In an exclusive interview with Chief Correspondent Onkar Singh at 12, Safdarjung Road, New Delhi, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal's bungalow, he denied allegations of corruption against him and his family.

Captain Amarinder Singh, the chief minister of Punjab, says you and your family amassed huge wealth during your reign as chief minister.

That is the allegation he has been parroting even before the election in Punjab [took place].

First he said we have properties worth Rs 3,500 crore both in India and abroad. Now he has come down to Rs 3,000 crore. That shows the allegations are hollow.

According to Amarinder Singh you acquired land in the US and other countries and your family members have foreign bank accounts.

That is a big lie. If he can show that I own even one inch of land and Rs 1 in foreign bank accounts then I will admit to all the charges he has levelled against me. I will quit the political arena.

If what you are saying is true, why then is the chief minister after you?

He is after me because I denied him a ticket from the Shiromani Akali Dal seven years ago on the ground that merely because of the social status of a maharaja (Captain Amarinder Singh is the maharaja of Patiala), he should not expect a party ticket.

I also asked him if he had ever gone to jail or spent some time with the people of his constituency. He felt insulted that how dare someone like me deny a ticket to a maharaja! He has not been able to get over that and that is why he is after me.

Are you saying he is vindictive?

Of course he is. Never before in the history of Punjab has a former chief minister been treated in such a fashion like he is treating me and my family.

Amarinder is vindictive: Badal

Don't you want the charges of corruption to be investigated against you?

I am not saying that. I would like to come clean and the best course is the appointment of a commission of inquiry. Let Amarinder place his facts before the commission and I would do my own, and then let the commission of inquiry decide.

You should bear one thing in mind that all the investigations are being conducted at instructions from the top. Not a single person from the public has filed a complaint against me and my family.

What about the first information report registered against you? Are you saying it is false and baseless?

Of course, it is baseless. The man who registered the first information report against me and my family is a Congress party worker. He has recently been appointed to an official post by Amarinder Singh. That shows the nexus between the person who registered the FIR and Captain [Amarinder Singh].

Did you threaten to withdraw your minister from the Vajpayee government if the Centre did not come to your help?

No, this thought has never come to my mind. Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, the Akali representative in the Vajpayee government, had met the prime minister and Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani to appraise them of developments in the state. We have not threatened to withdraw Dhindsa from the Cabinet.

Mr Advani made some hard-hitting statements against Amarinder Singh. Are you satisfied with them?

You can ask Advaniji what he said and what he did not say. As far as the Akali Dal is concerned we will fight our own battle both politically as well as legally. We have the capability and we would do it.

If you are so confident, then why have you approached the Centre to prevent any further raids?

Have the raids stopped? My properties are being raided day in and day out. Most of the time they have returned empty handed. It is strange that an order should be passed for the measurement of my son Sukhbir Badal's official bungalow in New Delhi. Is the captain saying my son indulged in corruption here as well? What is amusing is that any property that is being raided is dubbed as mine, irrespective of whether it belongs to me or not.

Can you give an example?

There are several examples. Recently they raided a petrol pump which has nothing to do with my family. Then they raided a so-called poultry house where there is no hen, no egg.

Several of your ministers have been arrested; one of them has been charged for alleged links with the ISI.

All the ministers who were arrested were tortured. They were stripped and given electrical shocks in order to make them confess that they helped me in making money. They wanted them to name me. But since they did not do so, they had to undergo this kind of torture.

As far as Narrottam Singh [Dhillon, Badal's nephew, charged for alleged links with the ISI] is concerned he is innocent and has been framed in a false case. All sorts of charges are being flung at him now. His so-called links with the ISI are figments of the captain's imagination.

Are you saying you have no property in your name?

I never said that either. According to Amarinder, 90 per cent of my property is abroad. He and his officers have tried their best to locate those properties in the last one-and-a-half years, but have found no evidence so far. Several trips have been made abroad in this connection.

As far as my properties in India are concerned they are all accounted for and they have been declared in the income tax returns of my son, myself and other members of the family.

Captain Amarinder Singh says he would make you forget the comforts of airconditioners which you have bought by ill-gotten means.

I have spent 15 years in jail including two during the Emergency. I am used to living without airconditioners. He has never been to jail so he should prepare himself for this eventuality. I dare Captain Amarinder Singh to arrest me.

What makes you say so?

Because I and Sukhbir Badal have filed defamation suits against him in the criminal and civil courts. Once the judgment comes he is bound to go to jail.

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