The drug scandal is set to dominate another Punjab assembly session that begins on Thursday. The opposition Congress on Wednesday announced to bring a privilege motion against state revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia on the alleged “confessional” statements of accused Manjinder Singh Bittu Aulakh and Jagjit Singh Chahal in the chargesheet that Enforcement Directorate (ED) has filed in a Patiala court.
“As per reports, the chargesheet contains signed statement of Chahal that he paid Rs 35 lakh as election fund to Majithia. The second accused, Bittu Aulakh, has revealed Majithia’s connections with three non-resident Indians (NRIs) in the network. On January 12 and 13, Aulakh was asked 22 questions, of which 14 related to Majithia. It is clear that the minister misled the House in the last session by claiming that he had been summoned as a witness and not accused. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal is duty bound to seek his resignation. If he does not resign, he should be dismissed. It is a test for the CM to prove his authority and show that it is his writ, and not that of his son and deputy CM, Sukhbir Badal, that runs in the party,” state leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar, said while addressing the media here.
Agenda hijacked again: Jakhar
The no-confidence motion moved by the Congress against the SAD-BJP government during the winter session was defeated. Mincing no words that the drugs issue had once again “hijacked” the agenda, Jakhar said they wanted to debate many issues in the House but drug racket had again emerged as the prime focus, as it affected the future of the state’s youth.
The party’s strategy this time is to target the minister and expose the “doublespeak” of the BJP that had demanded the resignation of Majithia after the ED, which is probing the money-laundering angle in the drug racket, had issued him summons. “The BJP will have to come clean. Where does it stand? Their own minister, Anil Joshi, is threatening to boycott the session. He should spill the beans, as he has enough ammunition. State BJP president Kamal Sharma also should clarify his party’s stand now. Last time, we were told that we should have allowed the BJP to speak on the no-confidence motion. We will let them do so this time. Their double standards have to be exposed before the people of Punjab,” the Congress leader said.
Aiming to drive a wedge between not just the allies but also the ruling Badal clan, Jakhar once again claimed that somebody within the establishment was trying to fix Majithia. “The minister’s dealings are not clean and he keeps bad company. His political graph was rising rapidly. Somebody within the establishment knew how he could be fixed, and has done it. The statement of arrested drug lord Jagdish Bhola before the media was not possible without the connivance of the establishment,” he said.
But the SAD dismissed the Congress move as ranting of an “issueless” opposition. “They are not concerned about the problems of the people of Punjab. It is old dirt and old conspiracy to malign the minister before assembly sessions. Where is he named by the ED in the chargesheet? Jakhar himself gave Majithia a clean chit in the House. Either he is confused or he does not understand where to start and where to end,” SAD minister and spokesman Daljit Cheema said.
‘Plot hatched beyond borders’
Some SAD leaders do not limit the conspiracy to the opposition. Ruling out Majithia’s resignation, another SAD general secretary and adviser to CM, Mahesh Inder Grewal, said: “It is an attempt by the ED officers to defame Majithia. But the larger conspiracy was hatched beyond Punjab’s borders.” Asked if it had anything to do with their party’s opposition to certain policies of the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) regime at the centre of which the SAD is a part, Grewal said: “We are an independent party. We are not wedded to the BJP but are only in an alliance. Even the Shiv Sena, BJP’s ally in Maharashtra, on Tuesday abstained from voting on the land bill.”
Sukhbir ducks question
Refusing to be drawn into the controversy on his brother-in-law, Bikram Singh Majithia, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal ducked all questions related to the ED probe. In SAS Nagar on Wednesday to inaugurate the golf range in Sector 65, Sukhbir when questioned on Majithia said: “I really don’t want to go there.” He also refused to comment on whether the NDA regime in Delhi raked up the issue deliberately whenever the SAD opposed something.
DD, not PTC, should cover assembly: Cong
The Congress on Wednesday demanded end to the “monopoly” of the PTC channel in covering Vidhan Sabha proceedings. State leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar said all private channels except the one owned by the ruling family had been denied permission to air the assembly proceedings. “The channel only shows what favours the government. The CM’s sarcastic remarks during debates are replayed several times but what the opposition says on the floor is blanked out. We want the exclusive telecast rights to the PTC withdrawn, and given to Doordarshan, which is under the central government. We will meet assembly speaker Charanjit Atwal and CM Parkash Singh Badal on the matter,” said Jakhar. He said the party would also explore legal option.