IAS-Turned-Politician Sidhu Sees Herself as Front-Runner in Bathinda

  • | Thursday | 16th May, 2024

Parampal Kaur Sidhu Maluka, a 2011-batch IAS officer, has had a career marked by both achievements and controversies, largely due to her familial connections with senior Akali leader Sikander Singh Maluka. Her decision to transition from civil services to politics was equally contentious. She came face-to-face with the Aam Aadmi Party-led State Government, particularly Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, when she opted to enter electoral politics to serve the people, rather than remaining in her administrative role for a few more months. She was due to retire in October this year.   Sidhus career highlights include becoming Punjabs first woman Block Development Panchayat Officer (BDPO) in the early 1990s. However, her appointments to various departmental positions under her father-in-law Malukas ministerial tenure, specifically in Education and Rural Development and Panchayats, were met with fierce opposition criticism.   Now, Sidhu is taking on a formidable political challenge by contesting against former Union Minister and three-time MP from Bathinda Harsimrat Kaur Badal. In her electoral debut, Sidhu regards herself as the leading candidate for the Bathinda Lok Sabha constituency, confident in her chances against not only SADs Harsimrat but also AAPs Cabinet Minister Gurmeet Singh Khuddian and Congress former MLA Jeetmohinder Singh Sidhu.   Expressing confidence in the BJPs prospects in the upcoming elections, Sidhu dismissed the notion of farmer opposition to the BJP. She claimed that those protesting and displaying black flags to BJP candidates were actually Akalis, AAP in the garb of farmers.   Optimistic about her chances, she believes that her entry into politics is a natural extension of her commitment to public service. In an exclusive interview with The Pioneer, Sidhu shared her perspectives on her political journey, the challenges she anticipates, and her vision for Bathinda. She reiterated her commitment to addressing the issues faced by the constituents and leveraging her administrative experience to bring about positive change. Excerpts:   First of all, what is the reason behind your decision to leave the civil services and shift to politics? Both are same…Both are actually the public service…When you are in office, there also, we were serving the public only. Now I have joined the party, joined the politics, and if elected to the Parliament, there also you have to serve the public. So both in politics as well as in civil services, you are serving the public, there is hardly any difference, I am enjoying it.   How smooth was the transition? Very smooth…Just as soon as I landed, everyone came for support…Theres so much of enthusiasm, people are excited…People want to support BJP this time…They want to vote for the BJP. There is support for BJP.   Why have you decided to join BJP as your father-in-law is already with the Akali Dal? It is because BJP is the only party that has vision, thats the only party that that has plans, thats the only party that has strength for making India a developed country by 2047. There are people who are working hard, working for 18-20 hours a day…I think thats the only party you should support. None of the other party has any agenda for development, none of the other party has any plans…There only plans are to win elections, which they are also not capable of.   Your father-in-law, Sikander Singh Maluka, has a considerable stronghold on several areas in Bathinda. How much thats helping you? Its helping me a lot, hes supporting us a lot. We are inching towards victory every day…He is campaigning for us….Bathinda is my hometown…I was born here, brought up here…So, combining with his support base, we are progressing towards victory.   Talking about your opponents, you are facing a three-time sitting MP, a Cabinet Minister who had defeated five-time Chief Minister in his bastion, and a former MLA who wields influence over some areas in the constituency. Where do you look yourself? I am at the top…I am not a greenhorn at all as being projected. People are sick and tired of Harsimrat ji…She had done nothing in her Food and Processing Ministry for Bathinda. She hasnt got any projects at all. She is actually projected AIIMS, road network…But these are done by BJP, and other BJP leaders, like (Nitin) Gadkari ji. She is not talking about anything in the food processing sector. She hardly has anything to her credit…She cannot claim anything thats she has done. People are now tired of her. People are also tired of the AAP Government. And as far as Congress candidate is concerned, he has limited hold over very limited area. He has never been to another constituency, he is always restricted to Talwandi Sabo. There also, he lost the elections. So, it doesnt make much difference.   Do you think, being a politicians daughter-in-law has affected your career as IAS? Yes...It has been affecting my career as an IAS because I faced lots of prejudice while working also and now in my resignation, you can see…I asked for voluntary retirement, but was denied. It has been given to all other officers, who asked for it, except me. I was the only lady officer, who was trying to retire and pursue politics…other officers were retired as soon as they applied for it.   What do you think are the reason behind it? They are afraid of me…they are afraid of our campaign…They know that in Malwa, we are getting a big victory, in Bathinda…They are afraid of all that.   BJP candidates are facing protests by the farmers creating hurdles in their campaigning. What do you have to say? There is hardly any protest by the farmers. There is protest by the AAP, by the Akali Dal in the garb of the farmers. So that is why we are trying to talk to the farm unions so that their name is not used by other parties. Farmers are supporting us. This time, its not the farmers.   Have you talked with the farmers as they are staging protests on railway lines, on highways against the Centre over MSP? I will certainly represent them in a proper way. I will try to represent them and do whatever I can do for them, but I need not talk to the people who are actually not the farmers. People protesting against us on the behalf of the AAP or Akali Dal. I need not talk to the people from other party.   So what are the issues you are taking up in your campaign? The basic issue is that the schemes that the Central Government has given to the poor people, they are not running nicely here. Because most of the funds are getting diverted, the schemes are getting scuttled like wellness centres became the mohalla clinics, and the purpose was not served. So was the Ayushman Bharat, all the private hospitals are literally being removed out of the list, so the purpose is not served, the doctors dont get payment or fund on time when they treat patients under the scheme. If we really want to take the benefit of the Central Government scheme, and we want the development of this area, its very important to now vote for BJP.

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