Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa was at the centre of a renewed offensive by the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over his alleged links with terrorists and drug smugglers.
During his Maghi Mela address on Tuesday, SAD patriarch Parkash Singh Badal sounded the bugle here for the coming Lok Sabha elections, saying the Congress had hit the border state harder than the Mughals and the British had done in history.
After the SAD president, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, had dubbed Bajwa "the biggest drug smuggler", chief minister Parkash Singh Badal took over to accuse the Gurdaspur parliamentarian of scuttling the central grants to Punjab.
Specifying what his regime had done the development of Punjab, Badal also used the occasion to project Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi as "best prime ministerial candidate" as opposed to "inexperienced Rahul Gandhi", saying an "untrained driver" such as the Congress vice-president would only cause accidents.
Without naming the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Badal hinted that the Congress and the new party in power in the Delhi state were "different sides of the same coin". Criticising the public-contact programme of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, he said "darbar" was for monarchs, "while people's representatives held sangat darshan'.
He predicted that the Kejriwal party would be a flop show, as it was lucky to win power in Delhi. "Its inexperienced leadership is confused about governance," said the CM. He likened the battle against the Congress in the coming general elections to a "second war of freedom". "The United Progressive Alliance misrule has left the country unsafe internally and externally," he said, equating the electorates' moode with the Janata Party wave of 1977, when even the Congress stalwarts had found it difficult to save their seats.
Bajwa biggest drug smuggler: Sukhbir
For the first time in an open address, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal dubbed state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa "the biggest smuggler".
Referring to the HT report that former Congress chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh had tipped party president Sonia Gandhi about Bajwa's "links with terrorists and drug smugglers", Badal accused the Punjab Congress president of shielding those elements.
"Bajwa's close association with terrorist outfits is no longer a secret," he said, adding: "His deceitful antecedents have also been exposed by Captain Amarinder. Bajwa should be inside the jail. Nobody involved in drug trade directly or indirectly will be spared."
The country looked forward to the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) rule at the Centre with Narendra Modi as prime minister. "He shares very warm relations with CM Badal," he said.