The active involvement of Punjab government’s assistant media adviser in anti-drug campaign has apparently not gone down well with certain SAD leaders.
Even as the SAD and the BJP are at loggerheads over their stand on drug issue, Vineet Joshi is running his anti-drug campaign in association with Union minister and Hoshiarpur MP Vijay Sampla and Rajya Sabha MP Avinash Rai Khanna.
On June 26, differences between Union minister for social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal came out in public during a function at Hoshiarpur. While Gehlot said Punjab ranked number one in the country in consumption of drugs, Badal said surveys dubbing the state as the highest drug consumer have no basis.
Joshi, who was made the assistant media advisor about two years ago, enjoys the rank of chief parliamentary secretary and the perks attached with it. As part of his campaign, Joshi claimed to have held 17 state-level programmes, including a march against drugs in Jallianwala Bagh and 14 roundtable conferences which involved discussions on the drug menace.
Badal had recently said that certain elements were trying to malign state’s image by harping on drugs issue. “Just talking about the issue would not solve any problem. It only gives a bad name to the state and the government,” said another SAD leader.
Joshi, 44, executive member of BJP’s Punjab unit, accepts that there was no study to authenticate and know the gravity of the problem. Joshi, however, says he was working on the basis of general perception that drug abuse was rampant in Punjab. He runs the campaign under the name of Joshi Foundation and union minister Sampla and Rajya Sabha MP Khanna are also involved with it. He said the foundation is not reaching out to any addict, but focuses to raising awareness. “We focus on families and ask them to save their children from drug addiction,” he adds.
Joshi said he has never said that the government was responsible for the problem.