In the eye of a raging row over his abusive face-off with Congress legislator Rana Gurjit Singh in the stormy winter session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha that ended on a bitter note on Friday, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) minister Bikram Singh Majithia is "hurt" at being "unfairly" portrayed as the villain of piece. In Chandigarh, he spoke to Gurpreet Singh Nibber to tell his side of the story. Excerpts:
Q: What provoked the flare-up in the assembly on Wednesday?
A: Even before the start of the session, the opposition Congress had made up its mind to corner me. Congress legislators started linking me to the Faridkot abduction and rape case and the ASI's murder in Amritsar, and even called me 'qaatil' (murderer). When I spoke about the Congress party's role in criminalisation of politics, and told the House that there are 20 arms licenses issued on an address of Kapurthala that belongs to Congress MLA Rana Gurjit Singh, he started abusing me. He abused my mother, and I could not have listened to that. No Punjabi can ever tolerate such an insult; so I retaliated. As I had a microphone in front of me, and he didn't have one, only I am being blamed and made to suffer this vicious propaganda.
Q: What do you have to say about the speaker's decision to take action against Rana Gurjit Singh, and not you?
A: The day I do something wrong, I will not wait for anyone to take action and walk out or resign of my own accord. But I won't attend the Vidhan Sabha to be abused.
Q: You come from the illustrious Majithia clan. Was that the real Bikram Singh Majithia who openly abused in the assembly?
A: No, that's not me. But circumstances forced me to act like that. I am an MLA for the past six years, and no one ever has cast aspersions on me. We all live for dignity and honour. I am a son first, an MLA later.
Q: Won't this controversy stoke the politics of confrontation between the Akalis and the Congress?
A: Our government would never indulge in confrontation of any sort. Our agenda is that of development. On the other side, the Congress is leaderless and frustrated. The factionalism in the Congress is pushing its leaders to adopt aggressive stand against us.
Even their leader Sunil Jakhar admitted personally that Rana Gurjit Singh initially spoiled the atmosphere, but in public Jakhar has said the opposite. He has not stood by the truth.
Q: Some feel that CM Parkash Singh Badal has lost command over the party, and you and deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal are calling the shots?
A: I think he (CM Badal) is very much in the saddle and has a strong grip over the government as well as on the party. He is running the entire show across the state.
Q: Now your opponents are publicly showing the video clip of you using profanities in the House. How would you counter that?
A: People already know that Rana Gurjit Singh is a big goonda. He turned personal against me in the assembly, which was totally wrong on his part.
Q: As a young and responsible minister, would you like to extend the olive branch?
A: I have nothing personal against the Congress party. People in the Congress have been telling me that Rana Gurjit is at fault. I think time is a big healer.