Once known as one of the world’s best defenders in hockey, former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh is back in news. On 12 January, he filed his nomination on Akali Dal ticket from Jalandhar Cantt seat in Punjab. He played three Olympics and three world cups. One can’t forget the moment when he scored four goals in last six minutes to equalise score with Germany (5-5) at Perth in 1985.
Pargat never hung up his shoes after his playing days. After retiring from the hockey, he was the first one to form a players’ association to ensure good remunerations to hockey players and just selection of players representing India. Later, former Indian cricket star Mohinder Amarnath took cue from Pargat Singh and formed a players’ association in cricket!
On the job front, Pargat began his innings with Indian Airlines but later joined Punjab Police as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP). He rose to the rank of SP before resigning to enter politics. During his days with the police force, he trained commandos and was involved in several anti-terrorist operations.
In 2008, when Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Singh Badal of the Akali Dal took over the state administration, Pargat was given the charge of Director, Sports, in the Punjab government. This is the time when the bonhomie between him and Sukhbir Singh Badal started. Facing serious corruption charges and the anti-incumbency tide, Sukhbir has fielded Pargat, a person with a clean image and national stature as a hockey hero. He hopes that candidates like Pargat will bring good luck to the party.
At 46, Pargat thinks the country needs people like him who have energy and experience to bring changes and execute the rule of the law. "The country needs a sporting look and sporting feeling. The reason being that in sports, you are away from caste, creed and religion… There is a solution to every problem. With a positive mind, you can get past your opponents and score a goal. That’s where I actually focus – to always remain positive and progressive,’’ Pargat told Firstpost during an interview in Jalandhar on Thursday.
Excerpts from Pargat Singh’s interview:
On joining politics
Just three days before filing the nominations on 9 January, I decided to take the plunge into politics… Sardar Sukhbir Singh Badal persuaded me. During my foreign travels, I have seen the political mechanism and administration in other countries. I have no experience in politics but politics is a combination of a political set and administration. First you have to take the mandate and then you have to deliver the things. So the idea is 'progress'. One thing is very clear to my mind that we can do much better than what we have been doing. With that positive feeling we can take this democratic nation to the next level. And what is more important is that this country needs a sporting look and sporting feeling. The reason being that in sports, you are away from caste, creed and religion.
On choosing the Akali Dal plank for entering politics
It is the people who matter. No political party can speak for itself. People determine fate of a political party. Ultimately, we vote to be a better state, a better country and a positive thinking state, so that we show the world that we are there among the top nations in the world.
On whether corruption is the issue in coming Assembly elections
Corruption is everywhere but we fail in implementing rules framed from time to time. Even when there is a discussion on the Lokpal bill, we must ask ourselves, who will be implementing or executing the anti-corruption laws. You can go for stringent laws but you fall flat if you don’t implement them. Of course, a strong Lokpal is required, but we also require people with character to run this institution. Ultimately, execution matters.
On his association with the Akali Dal, whose leader Sukhbir Singh Badal is facing several corruption charges
There are always rumours, big rumours! My idea of joining politics is simple. I am 40 years plus. At this age, I have the capacity to execute things. People normally join politics after retirement age. But I feel that at 46, I have energy and experience. The biggest challenge in Punjab today is that our youth are indulging in drugs. During our survey, we found that 65 percent of Punjab’s youth are involved in drugs. These young guys are supposed to be the country’s leaders, engineers and doctors tomorrow. But if they surrender to such habits, they will never be cured.
On solving problems
In my constituency, people have several issues – selling of potato, showdown between local community and the Army authorities and the Octroi issue. I believe that I can solve these issues only if I understand them better. From sports I have learnt that that there is a solution to every problem. With this positive mind, you can get past your opponents and score a goal. That’s where I actually focus – to always remain positive and progressive.
On his political agenda
I will execute the rule of the law to make life better in the state. I will address to the problem of drugs. Even the UN charter says that sport is the only answer to youth indulging in drugs. You have to engage them. You have to channelise their energy. Punjabis have a 'thrust' (energy level) in their blood. They have the genes which carry it. You only have to channelise them and the best way to do it is to involve them in sport.