After conflicting statements on whether to allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail in Punjab, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his deputy Sukhbir Singh Badal, who also heads the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), on Thursday vowed solid support to the BJP-led NDA in its opposition to the proposal. Sukhbir denied his reported stand in favour of the FDI, claiming that he stood by his father and had been misquoted.
Both the CM and his son Sukhbir , who were speaking to the media after addressing a public rally here, categorically stated that there was no difference with alliance partner BJP on the issue. "You, the media people, misquoted me. I only talked about a consensus. I had been consistently saying that all stakeholders, including traders, farmers, unemployed youth and opposition parties, besides the alliance partners of the Congress-led UPA, should have been taken into confidence before taking such a crucial decision that would have long-term impact on the economic scenario of country".
Having already likened FDI to the advent of East India Company earlier this week in Sirsa, CM Badal again recalled the British Raj, though in a different light. "Two persons in the UPA's central government have no right to decide the fate of the country. Even British rulers used to consult the public before passing laws to build a consensus. Here, these two persons have tried to mortgage the interests of 120 crore people to multinational companies".
He termed the "tamasha of FDI" as a measure of the UPA to wean attention away from the multi-lakh-crore scams, including the Coal block allotment scandal: "Pata nahin corruption lai Congress party ne Guinness Book vich naa darj karauna hai! (It seems the Congress wants its name in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most corrupt party)."
'Punjab Cong leaders busy fighting each other'
About Congress legislators seeking a special session of the state assembly to discuss the new taxes and also the alleged bungling of central funds to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore, Sukhbir was more eager that his father to reply, "This whole chorus of statements and allegations is aimed at winning the battle over the state Congress chief's chair. The Congress high command has only one source of feedback, that is the national media. And in the mad race for the chair, each Congress leader is trying to book a slot in the media, especially in the newspapers read by (All India Congress Committee president) Sonia Gandhi."
On Congress general Secretary Rahul Gandhi's proposed October visit to Punjab, the chief minister recalled the time "when Indira Gandhi came to campaign for the Congress in 10 constituencies, including my then constituency Gidderbaha". "Then, too, I I told newsmen that the Congress would lose all 10 seats where she had campaigned. The results of those assembly elections proved my predictions right," he claimed, not elaborating but adding that "Rahul Gandhi's visit would meet the same fate".
Sukhbir's wife and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal pitched in, "Let the Congress high command shift its base to Punjab; that would ensure its total decimation in the state."