After giving a stunningly unusual dressing-down to public relations and NRI minister Bikram Singh Majithia in public glare during the Pravasi Punjabi Sammelan in Phagwara on Saturday, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday attempted to apply balm on Majithia's bruised ego.
Blasting Majithia in front of NRIs, Badal had said: "Tussi kade jail katti hai (Have you ever been to jail)? Tuhanu ta pakki pakaai mili hai (you have got the minister's post on a platter). Hun tussi mere te vee kabja karan nu firde ho (now you are looking to grab my chair, too)…"
While admitting that what he had said came straight from the heart, the veteran leader tried to deflate his own tirade against Majithia, saying whatever he had said was in a lighter vein.
"I was speaking in a light mood… you people took me very seriously… Bikram Majithia is intelligent, he works hard and he did a good job (as NRI minister)…I appreciate that," Badal said during an informal interaction with mediapersons in his office at the civil secretariat here.
Though Badal had told Majithia at the Phagwara function that he got the minister's post on a platter, the chief minister on Tuesday said it was pure merit on the basis of which cabinet berths were given and that there was no favouritism.
"I always say whatever is in my heart. What I said there was dil ki baat… I have no grudge against anybody," he said in a clear attempt to give a new spin to his verbal attack against Majithia, which is being hotly debated as well as rejoiced about across the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP and the opposition Congress.
But the SAD patriarch was also quick to reiterate that senior party leaders who had made many sacrifices "must get first priority and respect as well." The young leaders, he said, must ensure complete coordination.
Responding to a question the five-time CM said nobody was trying to dislodge him from the top post and that he always became the chief minister as per the party's directive.
He warmly lauded his son and deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, saying: "This time, I was not interested in contesting the elections… But Sukhbir went ahead and announced that I will be the CM…"
Badal claimed that he had never become the CM by his own choice. He said: "It is by the order of the party that I became the CM always. The party is supreme for me and I follow its orders religiously. I always work to further the agenda of the party and for the welfare of the state."
About his continuation as chief minister, he posed a counter-question, asking will Sukhbir ever think of dislodging him from the top post.
Badal said the deputy CM was following in "my footsteps by adhering to the policy of taking everybody along." He said: "Sukhbir is moving in the right direction and has been working day and night."
Rules out revival of militancy
Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday said the militancy would never be revived in the border state of Punjab as people had suffered a lot. Responding to a question, the CM said no movement could continue without the active support of the people. The people of Punjab will never let any such movement spread its base, he said. He added that though solitary incidents couldn't be ruled out, there was no question of militancy returning in the state.