Seeking to skirt direct blame for banning Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh’s debut movie ‘MSG: The Messenger of God’ in Punjab, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said on Tuesday that the move was based on intelligence reports from agencies of both the state and the Centre, which said the movie’s screening could lead to “serious repercussions in terms of law and order”.
Speaking on the sidelines of a sangat darshan meet at Lambi, his assembly segment, the CM reiterated his government’s “firm commitment to maintain the hard-earned peace and amity in the state”. And then he underlined the contention that the BJP-led “central government had sent an advisory to ban this movie, and thus the state acted accordingly in larger public interest”.
The dera head is a contentious figure among sections of Sikhs over his manner of propagation, which has ignited violent clashes in the past. The Sirsa-based sect had openly supported the BJP, partner of Badal’s SAD, in the Haryana polls that the saffron party won even as the SAD was in alliance with its opponent INLD there. Speedy clearance to the movie from a censor appellate tribunal is being seen as payback by the BJP, but the SAD is seen as playing on the Panthic agenda through the ban, as even the Akal Takht, highest temporal seat of the Sikhs, had sought a ban on ‘MSG’.
Commenting on the seat-sharing arrangement between the SAD and BJP in the Delhi assembly polls, he said that was “hardly any issue” and would be finalised soon.
Meanwhile, to a question on how the government would tackle the menace of stray animals in the state, the CM said big gaushalas (cow shelters) would be built in every district. On the transfer of certain Enforcement Directorate (ED) officers who had been probing a drug nexus in which politicians have been quizzed, the CM again said the decision had been taken by the Union government on administrative grounds.
He rubbished reports of “any sort of urea shortage”: “The state has received far greater supplies of urea as compared to that in the corresponding period last year.” Addressing gatherings in several villages including Sehna Khera, Sikhwala, Kakhanwali, Panjawa and Khuddian Maha Singh, besides Lambi, he also vowed to eradicate the menace of waterlogging.
The CM also used some anti-Congress rhetoric, saying that the previous central government pursued the policy of “excessive centralisation of powers, due to which the states suffered a lot”.