Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Monday trained his guns on the Punjab government, alleging that the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal did not want to end the drug menace in the state because it was “benefiting them hugely”.
“Four years ago, when I said drugs was a very serious issue in the state, (deputy chief minister) Sukhbir Badalji made fun of me and claimed I was maligning Punjab’s image. Today, a movie like Udta Punjab is being banned in Punjab. Even now, he is not willing to acknowledge the truth (behind the state’s drug problem). This is because ignoring the truth is benefiting them hugely. The Akali Dal and its leaders are reaping huge profits due to drugs every day,” Gandhi said at a well-attended dharna of the state Congress outside the mini-secretariat here.
The party vice-president picked on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for their stated intention of enhancing the ease of doing business in the state. “But only one business has flourished in Punjab, and that’s the drug trade. Akali Dal leaders provide cover to this business and patronise peddlers,” he said in a 10-minute speech that evoked loud cheers from the crowd.
Gandhi alleged that the Punjab police have to deal with immense political interference. “They defeated the problem of terrorism here. Nowhere in the globe has terrorism been wiped out this completely, as the police did in Punjab. But now, the Akali government has sidelined good officers. Bad officers have been given important work and full powers,” he said.
He said that if elected to power, the Congress will wipe out the state’s drug problem within a month by putting upright police officers at the helm of affairs. Besides this, it will also enact a law to sell the properties of drug peddlers and distribute the funds raised among affected people.
Gandhi said a government formed by the Congress would work for the welfare of both farmers and industrialists. “We won’t make fake promises of hiking the minimum support price like Modi did. That’s easy to say but very difficult to do. Believe us, we will do it,” he added.