As Punjab’s main opposition parties, they had both fought the Lok Sabha elections accusing the ruling SAD-BJP combine of “complicity” in the multi-crore synthetic drug racket. But as members of Lok Sabha from Punjab, neither the Congress nor the Aam Aadmi Party have raised the allegation of “government patronage”, including the recent reports on the Enforcement Directorate dithering on summoning state revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia for interrogation despite three of the accused and their kin claiming in their statements that the minister knew Canada-based drug dealers.
The AAP had whipped strong anti-incumbency sentiments against the Badal government by accusing it of “patronising” the drug mafia after arrested druglord Jagdish Bhola had named Majithia. Its national convener Arvind Kejriwal had openly taunted the ruling family during his roadshows in Punjab on the “brother-in-law connection” to the drug racket. But the party has so far not once raised the issue in the Lok Sabha despite having four MPs from Punjab.
AAP’s Punjab convener Sucha Singh Chhotepur says they have asked their MPs to seek a debate on the issue in the Lok Sabha. “But we are a small party with just four MPs. Two of our MPs are abroad.
We may not get the time but the Congress is a big party and has the strength to seek a debate.
Even their deputy leader in Lok Sabha, Capt Amarinder Singh, is from Punjab. He can easily get the time to raise the issue. But he is in favour of Punjab Police investigating the matter while the Punjab Congress chief (Partap Singh Bajwa) is gunning for a CBI probe. They are themselves divided over it,” Chhotepur said, while claiming that Amarinder seemed to have some “understanding” with Majithia on the issue.
However, Amarinder said he was by the side of his ailing mother in Patiala and had not been to Parliament in the past 10 days. “My mother is in critical care. I will be able to go to Lok Sabha only once she gets better. As for AAP, their MPs sit next to us in the house. The party and its MPs should keep their ears open. I have raised the issue of drugs in the LS soon after being elected the Amritsar MP. I also wrote to PM Narendra Modi to formulate a national policy on drugs as there were multiple aspects to the problem. I had also raised this demand much earlier as the Punjab CM,” he said. Amarinder, while speaking in the Lok Sabha on the motion of thanks to the President in June had described the situation in Punjab as alarming. Referring to Maqboolpura in Amritsar, he had said that 90% women had been widowed as their husbands had died of drug addiction.
Though the former CM blames the Badal government of having failed to tackle the menace, he said it is a battle that should be fought by the Centre and states together. “Some narcotics are coming into the country from across the border, some come from states such as MP and Rajasthan. Then there are synthetic drugs like ICE which are being produced within the state itself,” he said.
On why his party is mum on the issue in Parliament, Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa said he had met Ludhiana Congress MP Ravneet Bittu in the Parliament last week and he had assured him to raise the issue. Even Bhagwant Mann, AAP MP from Sangrur, was overhearing the conversation,” he said.
Punjab Police probe will yield quick results: Captain
Even as Bajwa has once again demanded a CBI investigation into the synthetic drug racket, his predecessor Capt Amarinder Singh on Thursday reaffirmed his faith in the Punjab Police probe. “I had then said that central agencies such as ED and revenue intelligence were working along with Punjab police on the case and they would yield quick results. My stand has been vindicated as the ED has prepared a dossier to summon those whose names have figured,” he said.