Of the 25 issues it had listed to corner the Akali-BJP government in the winter session, the opposition could raise only one. But the Congress was able to not only push the ruling coalition on the back foot but also drive a bigger wedge between them as events on the last day of the session unfolded.
Going hammer and tongs after chief parliamentary secretary Virsa Singh Valtoha was a tactical move, leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar later told the media. The strategy seemed to have exposed the fault lines in the alliance, as BJP minister Anil Joshi also embarrassed the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) by questioning Valtoha’s remarks in the House. Jakhar claimed but they had not diluted the issue of Majithia’s resignation.
“We will meet the President to show him how drug-terror link has compromised the security of this border state and the country, and demand the sacking of the Punjab government. We will also take the battle to the streets. We did not expect that a member of the ruling party will claim to be a terrorist when we are asking a minister to resign for being summoned by the Enforcement Directorate to probe his role in the drug racket. We never expected that Majithia would resign by our slogans. But his political career is all but over and he cannot salvage it. Even the social media is rife with anger against him. His resignation is now just a matter of when. This forum is to build pressure on the government and we have pushed them on the back foot,” said Jakhar.
Though it has found an unlikely ally in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Congress is no mood to spare the saffron brigade, which it sees as a bigger threat to its electoral prospects. Aiming to divide the BJP, Jakhar congratulated its minister Anil Joshi for taking on the SAD and cast aspersions over state president Kamal Sharma’s “flip flop” on Majithia’s resignation.
To describe the BJP’s dilemma, he quoted the famous dialogue of yesteryears screen villain Ajit: “Ajit said in a movie: ‘Isko liquid oxygen mein dalo. Liquid isko jeene nai dega aur oxygen isko marne nai daga (Put him in liquid oxygen. The liquid would not let him live and oxygen will not let him die).’ The BJP, too, is on liquid oxygen. The liquid is its desire to cash on the Modi wave in the country and break free of the SAD. But the oxygen is the perks of power that it does not want to give up. But we have exposed the BJP for its doublespeak,” the state Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader claimed.
The witty bouncers of Jakhar, who had earlier in the day tried to match both chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and BJP minister Madan Mohan Mittal barb for barb, were not over yet. He went on to make another Bollywood analogy. “There is another movie dialogue—tota mirchi kha gaya (the parrot has eaten the chilli). The BJP’s belated pangs of conscience are akin to the parrot’s situation. It cannot run with the hares and hunt with the hounds. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken about drugs in Punjab. Either the BJP should condemn the PM for defaming Punjab or it should stand by him. The BJP will pull the strings but is only waiting for an opportune time,” Jakhar added.
Jakhar, who has in the past faced criticism for not being able to corner the government, sounded triumphant and fired a parting shot at the Badals. “I will never believe if people tell me deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal has bought Deepak Dhaba. But their credibility is so low that people in Punjab believe it. They will believe anything being said about them,” he quipped.