Sarabjit Singh's "martyrdom" has provided the much-needed escape route to the Parkash Singh Badal government, which was virtually struggling for an agenda for Friday's special session of the Punjab assembly after the Centre decided not to impose wealth tax on agricultural land within urban area limits.
Now, it has emerged that the session will be adjourned indefinitely after paying homage to Sarabjit, whom chief minister Parkash Singh Badal described as a "national martyr."
The political objective of this hurriedly convened session was to put the Congress on the mat over the emotive issue of wealth tax on agricultural land. But, the SAD-BJP government found itself in a tight spot after union finance minister P Chidambaram allayed apprehensions on imposition of this tax and credited Punjab and Haryana Congress leaders for taking up this issue with the Centre.
As per SAD-BJP sources, the session will begin and end with the "obituary reference" as a resolution will be moved and the members will pay tributes to Sarabjit "for his unparallel sacrifice".
After the Congress stole the Akali thunder over the wealth tax issue, SAD-BJP strategists had planned to embarrass the state Congress by focusing on the acquittal of party leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case and by highlighting Sarabjit's plight.
However, Sarabjit's death and his scheduled cremation on Friday further compelled the government to change its strategy and devise a face-saving formula for Friday's session. A section of the SAD-BJP leaders were of the view that a decision should be taken "not to hold the session at all" in view of the three-day state mourning declared by the government and the session coinciding with his cremation.
During the SAD-BJP legislators' meeting on Thursday, which the CM chaired, two resolutions - one about Sarabjit's murder and the other demanding a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into Sajjan Kumar's role in the riots were passed in an apparent desperate bid to cut short the assembly session.
As at the core of Friday's session was the wealth tax issue, the SAD-BJP legislators also passed a self-praising resolution to express deep gratitude to the "SAD-BJP and other like-minded political parties" of the country for their successful and relentless struggle against the imposition of wealth tax by the Centre. The SAD-BJP and other political parties had initiated a countrywide mass movement and saved the farming community from the 'death knell' of wealth tax, the resolution said.