Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday cited a recent Union ministry survey to claim that his state had the least percentage of drug addicts and the problem was more severe in Mumbai and Aam-Aadmi-Party-ruled Delhi.
“Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and other enemies of the state said 70% of our youth were on drugs, while the Centre’s social welfare department and All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have now found that figure to be just 0.06% (or 16,620 individuals) of our 2.77-crore population,” a statement issued in state capital Chandigarh quoted Sukhbir as saying during a state-level function in Jalandhar for the distribution of enhanced social-security pension. “If it were as the Congress said, this college where we are sitting must be full of addicts. Is it so?,” Sukhbir asked the gathering, adding: “Instead, it’s Delhi colleges and schools that are full of drug addicts.”
Earlier, Sukhbir made a statement that it was easier to get drugs in Goa than in Punjab, a claim repudiated by Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar. Now his saying that Delhi is worse off is sure to start a new debate. On the proposed visit of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to Punjab, during in which he is expected to meet drug addicts, Sukhbir said instead of blaming Punjab, Kejriwal should mind his own state. “He should thank us that we have seized a huge amount of drugs coming in from Afghanistan and Pakistan before it could reach Delhi. But Kejriwal doesn’t have that courtesy,” said Sukhbir.
On the allegation of Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh that the Majithia family of his brother-in-law was trying to gain control of Amritsar’s Khalsa College, a heritage institution, by opening a private university, Sukhbir said: “The PPCC chief is a frustrated soul. It has been clarified a number of times that the heritage college would continue to function as now.” Replying to another question about the cost of the recent operation to fight terrorists at Pathankot, the deputy CM said the defence was a central subject and “the Centre should bear the expenses”.
‘Met BJP leaders to share chai-samosa’
Asked about the recent meeting with the Bharatiya Janata Paty (BJP) leadership at the residence of Union finance minister Arun Jaitley, Sukhbir said there had been no discussion about any resentment in the state BJP unit regarding the alliance with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).
“We all met in Delhi to share chai-samosa and exchange hugs. No leaders from the BJP reported any discrimination against the party,” said Sukhbir.
Asked why then the Punjab BJP leaders were crying hoarse, Sukhbir called former local bodies minister and BJP legislator Manoranjan Kalia over, gave him a bear hug, and said: “Kalia-ji dasso, kedi discrimination hoyi thuade naal (Kalia-ji, please tell them what discrimination you have faced?” Kalia hugged Sukhbir back but made no comment.