Sitting MP and Punjab Democratic Alliance candidate from Patiala, Dharamvir Gandhi, feels the BJP's nationalism is chauvinism and that India will go Pakistan's way if the armed forces are "intermixed" with the political class.
The 67-year-old lawmaker also accused the Narendra Modi government of usurping the power of states and giving a free hand to right-wing "fringe" groups such as the Hindu Mahasabha, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad the Bajrang Dal.
On the BJP's high-pitched nationalism narrative, Gandhi said, "It's not nationalism but chauvinism. To be nationalistic is one thing, to be chauvinist and spread hatred is other."
"I am not for chauvinistic agenda. I am a proud Indian and a proud Punjabi, but I do not hate Pakistan. It is as beautiful as India," he said.
He also said it's wrong on the part of the Modi government to take credit for the surgical strikes conducted by the armed forces.
"It is definitely wrong (taking credit for surgical strikes). The only thing why India has not gone Pakistan's way is that the Army was kept away from the government agenda and the political class... Pakistan has borne the brunt of intermixing its army with the civil administration. India will be no different," he said.
Asked if the Congress tried to score brownie points by saying that former prime minister Indira Gandhi liberated Bangladesh, the cardiologist said, "Definitely. I don't endorse Pakistan's oppression against Bangla people, but India's role in it was wrong."
Accusing the NDA government of polarising society, he said, "The events which have happened, for example, Poona in Gujarat, Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra, burning of churches and mosques, etc. This polarisation and divisive agenda are detrimental to the unity of the country.
"India is a bouquet of different religious, cultural, linguistic and racial identities. If you try to pluck a flower, the bouquet will fall apart. Also, a bouquet with only one kind of flowers doesn't look beautiful."
On the issue of the continuing farm crisis in Punjab, Gandhi said, "There's a need for some drastic steps. Subsidising and incentivising agriculture is imperative to save small farmers. The big corporates have their eyes set on the farm sector. It will be either cooperative or corporate."
"Agriculture has already become a loss-making business. The farmer is the only person who doesn't have the right to fix the price of his produce. The government decides the price of his produce and the market economy decides the price of inputs. That's why lakhs of people have quit farming or have committed suicide," he said.
This time, he hopes his clean image and a stellar report card would help him trounce Kaur again.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)