Davos, Jan 27 (PTI) Punjab’s Finance Minister Manpreet Badal has asserted that his state is a strong fort of the Congress and any kind of BJP “magic” cannot work there.
He also said his party’s decision to draft Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia as general secretaries for Uttar Pradesh was like a smart general bringing the ‘reserve force’ to the battlefront when the war peaks and it would ensure success.
Badal was here in this Swiss Alps town to represent Punjab in its maiden appearance at the World Economic Forum (WEF) summit, during which he made a strong pitch for investments and to boost its international profile to fast-track industrial development.
Attending a number of official sessions, sideline events and bilateral meetings with prospective investors and international organisations, he pitched his state as a great place to do business in with a supportive ecosystem.
In an interview on the sidelines of the WEF Annual Meeting that ended Friday, Badal told PTI, “Punjab is the Congress party’s fort and the BJP has never been able to win over the people of Punjab.” “The BJP’s magic may have worked across the country, but it never worked in Punjab,” he added.
On the appointment of new general secretaries for Uttar Pradesh, which was announced when the Davos summit was underway, Badal said, “What smart generals do at the time of war, is they keep one part of the force in reserve. When the war has started and reaches its peak, then the reserved force is brought to the front and that helps win the election.” “So I think, that reserved force has come out now in form of Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia and the success will be now with Congress,” he said.
He, however, added that he did not discuss domestic politics with the global leaders here as Davos was not a platform where one should talk anything negative about India. These political fights are domestic issues and they should be resolved at home only, he maintained.
The 56-year old Congress leader said Punjab needs to tell the world that it is ready for business as well, after taking care of India’s food security and even border security all along.
“We have been told that industries need to be set up in each and every part of the country to make India great and we are taking it as another national duty,” said Badal, who has a law degree from the University of London and was a practicing barrister before entering politics.
A five-time MLA, Badal is known as a ‘progressive farmer’ and was the author of the party manifesto during last state assembly polls. He is also part of the team that is preparing the Congress manifesto for the national elections.
“Punjab has come to Davos for the first time and the reason for that is the realisation that the state needs to expand on its industrialisation after the GST regime impacted the competitive edge it enjoyed in the agriculture and foodgrain sector,” Badal said.
He said foodgrain accounted for 40 per cent of its tax base and Punjab provides 30 per cent of the country’s foodgrain requirement.
“Post GST, this tax base has been impacted in a big way. Though we are getting compensation right now, this would end in about three and half years after completion of five years of the GST rollout,” he said.
Badal said that for the last 70 years, Punjab has been taking care of the food security of the country on the lines of national security.
“Now we have realised that we cannot remain dependent on food grains and therefore we also need to improve our public and international relations through summits like WEF here in Switzerland,” he said.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.