Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Tuesday “exonerated” revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia for his alleged involvement in the drug racket while concluding the debate on the governor’s address in the ongoing budget session in the assembly.
The Enforcement Directorate had summoned and questioned Majithia’s role in the racket.
Badal made an attempt to put to rest all the controversies related to the issue of drugs, which was much discussed in the political circles and the Congress has boycotted the governor’s address on the issue, demanding Majithia’s resignation for a free and fair probe.
The CM in his speech categorically said, “Summons by an investigation agency doesn’t make anyone accused, Sukhbir (deputy CM) and I have also been facing trials and attending courts but that doesn’t make us accused,” Badal tried to play down the issue of summons to Majithia, asking the opposition to bury it.
Surprisingly, everyone from the opposition benches except Congress’s Hoshiarpur MLA Tarlochan Singh failed to react when the CM was exonerating Majithia. Speaker Charanjeet Singh Atwal denied Congress MLA time to speak. Leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar on Monday had proposed a privilege motion against Majithia but the speaker didn’t allow it saying it was under consideration and he might allow it in a day or two.
After the speaker did not allow the privilege motion, Jakhar on Monday had accused the government of “muzzling” the voice of the opposition. Jakhar had said on Monday that he would take back the privilege motion if the CM assured the House that Majithia is innocent. He remained away from the proceedings of the house the entire day, because his father Balram Jakhar is hospitalised in Delhi.
Addressing the House on the issue, Badal said other states were more affected due to drugs than Punjab and it’s a national problem. He added that Punjab was not growing or manufacturing drugs, heroin came from Afghanistan, and Punjab being a border state, the journey of drugs to the rest of the world began from here. Lauding the role of Punjab Police, Badal said 10 FIRs had been registered and 76 drug smugglers active in the country arrested.
Earlier, taking part in the debate, independent MLA from Ludhiana Balwinder Singh Bains made liberal references to Majithia on the drug trade, which were expunged by the speaker. Manoranjan Kalia as chairman of the assembly ordered this comments to be expunged. Congress MLA Jagmohan Kang and BJP MLA KD Bhandari also touched the issue. According to Bhandari, the issue of drugs is bringing a bad name to the state.
Rs 14,640 cr released for wheat procurement
CM informed the house that Reserve bank of India has released first instalment of cash credit limit (CCL) for procurement of wheat, which us expected to begin from April 1.
Earlier Congress MLA from Patiala Preneet Kaur raised the issue asking the CM clear accounts with the Centre so that there is no problem of funds to procure wheat.
She referred to previous season when funds for procurement of paddy were stalled by the Centre asking state to clear pending amount of `42,000 crore. CCL was released after much persuasion by Punjab government.