Ally BJP confronts Akalis on terror, drugs
Virtually playing the Opposition’s role in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday, an unusually furious Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched a frontal attack on its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), over Akali chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Virsa Singh Valtoha’s admission of his past ‘terror links’.chandigarh Updated: Dec 25, 2014 11:33 IST
Virtually playing the Opposition’s role in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on Wednesday, an unusually furious Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched a frontal attack on its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), over Akali chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Virsa Singh Valtoha’s admission of his past ‘terror links’.
The saffron party asked chief minister Parkash Singh Badal to “rein in such Akali leaders” and condemned not only “terrorism and drugs” but also people linked with it -- a stunning move that was like a siege within.
The opposition Congress staged a walkout from the House after nearly 90 minutes of the proceedings on the final day of the three-day winter session, but the Opposition’s absence was not felt as the SAD-BJP legislators targeted their cabinet ministers.
Also, sharp differences within the BJP abruptly came to the fore when former minister Manoranjan Kalia pointed out a lacuna in the bill presented by local bodies minister Anil Joshi.
Speaker’s tough talk
BJP MLA Som Parkash and BJP minister Madan Mohan Mittal came to Joshi’s defence. But speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and Akali MLA justice Nirmal Singh (retd) endorsed Kalia’s contentions. Atwal, otherwise known for his cool demeanour, had to do some tough talking when Mittal and Akali CPS Pawan Kumar Tinu indirectly referred to the speaker’s style of functioning.
Before this, Joshi, whose father was killed by terrorists, took strong exception to Valtoha’s cheeky admission of his past ‘terror links’. On Wednesday, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar moved the privilege motion against Valtoha, saying: “Now that a member of the House has professed on the floor of the House to be a terrorist himself... it is a serious matter.”
The speaker, however, rejected this on the grounds that it was moved after the House assembled.
As Valtoha, on the back foot since Tuesday, tried to explain his position over the terror remarks, saying that he always fought for Punjab’s rights, Joshi interjected, saying: “Our colleague openly calls himself a terrorist with pride and claims that he fought for the rights/pride of Punjab. Badal (CM) also fights for the rights of Punjab. Valtoha’s remark has hurt me and the BJP as my father was killed by terrorists.”
Urging Badal to “advise his MLA to control the tongue” and not cause embarrassment to the government, he said the BJP was being ridiculed by people over Valtoha’s remarks.
“We are part of the government and are a coalition partner. The BJP is with you (SAD) on all issues. But one member calling himself a terrorist is uncalled-for,” Joshi said, urging the CM to “control the language being used by SAD members” and that such utterances sent wrong signals.
Stung by the BJP attack, Valtoha was on his feet again to clarify his position. But Badal directed him to “sit down” and “leave this topic”, even as the speaker came to Valtoha’s rescue, saying that the CPS was just giving a ‘personal explanation’.
“We condemn terrorism and also drugs,” Joshi thundered.
Drugs and terror
Endorsing his views, Mittal said the BJP was in the forefront of its battle against terrorism. “Is there anyone from the BJP caught or linked with the drug racket? The BJP president (Amit Shah) will launch a movement against drugs from Amritsar. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that money generated from the drugs is used to fund terrorism,” Mittal said.
Earlier, as the Congress continued disrupting the proceedings after the speaker did not accept the privilege motion against Valtoha, the chief minister said Valtoha had regretted his remarks.
“My request is that the Valtoha matter is over. He has tendered an apology. Hunn ki karonge... goli maronge... (What will you do now? Shoot him?),” he said, urging the Congress to let the House function.But the Congress didn’t budge.