Industrial development be damned, the industries minister in Punjab wants political vendetta.
On Friday, on his first official visit to Ludhiana after the Lok Sabha elections, industries and commerce minister Madan Mohan Mittal kicked up a controversy when he told industrialists to solve their own problems, since they had chosen Congress candidate Ravneet Singh Bittu over Shiromani Akali Dal nominee Manpreet Singh Ayali in this constituency.
Ludhiana Effluent Treatment Society (LETS) comprising businessmen from different industries had invited Mittal to Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) at Focal Point to lay before him the issues of micro, small and medium enter prises (MSMEs). Their value-added tax (VAT) refunds are stuck and Punjab Pollution Control Board has unleashed a torrent of raids on them, which disrupts their work. An infuriated Mittal got up from his chair, saying: “Bittu nu hero banata, sadda Ayali teeje number te, hun kehende ho ke industry da khyal karo (You made Bittu a hero; our Ayali stood third (in the elections); and now you ask us to pay attention to industry.” Badish Jindal, national president of the Federation of the Associations of Small Industries of India (FASII), saw the minister got angry in the presence of several industrialists. “He didn’t like the complaints,” he said.
Mittal also said at the meeting that before the elections, he had come to the Ludhiana industrialists but they had not helped him. Jindal, who is also vice-chairman of National Growth Council, said the minister had also cancelled Saturday’s scheduled meeting with the industrialists.
The Congress made it another case in point that the state government had started deliberate degeneration of the industry to punish it for backing the state opposition in the parliamentary elections. “The behavior of the senior minister is uncalled for. The industrialists, who generate a lot of revenue for the state government, do not deserve to be threatened. The minister should apologise to them,” said former district Congress president KK Bawa.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) also issued a statement seeking the resignation of Mittal, calling him unworthy of the post. “The statement by the senior minister of the state is highly deplorable and unconstitutional,” said AAP senior leader HS Phoolka, adding: “Such a person as him should not remain industries minister.”