The Congress, which has been taking on the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) over the drugs issue, and accusing its leaders of being hand-in-glove with narcotic smugglers and suppliers, came in for sharp criticism over a demand from the district Congress committee (DCC) chief over giving official sanction to the opening of poppy husk and opium vends in Punjab.
On Tuesday, during Amritsar MP Captain Amarinder Singh's rally at Amarkot on Tuesday, Bhullar, who had organised the rally, demanded that if the Congress came to power after the next assembly polls, then its leader Capt Amarinder Singh - who could be the CM in such a scenario - should give official sanction to the 'opening of opium and poppy husk vends and also legalise illicit liquor distillation, which takes place in homes'.
Akali CPS Valthoa hits out
Khem Karan MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Virsa Singh Valtoha on Wednesday sought the expulsion of Sukhpal Bhullar and his father Gurchet Singh Bhullar, a former minister, from the Congress party.
"By making such an announcement, the Bhullars have deeply hurt the people of Punjab," Valtoha said, while addressing the media at Bhikiwind.
By making such statements, the Bhullars have given an indication that their party will make this demand a part of the Congress manifesto for the 2017 assembly polls, he claimed.
"On the one hand, the Congress and its vice-president Rahul Gandhi terms drug menace as the biggest evil in Punjab, leaders like the Bullars and even their Captain want to turn all Punjabis into drug addicts," he added seeking a clarification from the Congress high command on the demand.
"As the demand was raised in the presence of Amarinder, the Congress high command should act against him too and he should also be sacked from the party," Valtoha added.
Valtoha's demand for throwing out the Bhullars from the Congress was supported by Tejpreet Singh Peter, who was expelled from the party some years back for his out-bursts against the Bhullars on the drug issue.
Peter who belongs to Bhikiwind had often questioned the Congress leadership for promoting the Bhullars. A couple of months back, he had met Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa with photographs showing the Bhullars in the company of drug smugglers.
After the Amarkot rally, Peter claimed that a drug smuggler Sarang Singh of Dasuwal village in Tarn Taran who has been booked under the NDPS Act was a former president of the Youth Congress for the Khem Karan constituency.
Meenwhile, CPS Dr Navkot Kaur Sidhu said, " At a time, when the state is fighting against the drug menace, such demands are shameful and unethical."
The districts of Amritsar and Tarn Taran should be declared dry areas as these two have a large number of historic gurdwaras and places visited by the Sikh gurus, she suggested.
"Amarinder should have strongly reprimanded the leader for putting up this demand. He should have reiterated his stand on the drug issue," she added.
When contacted, Sukhpal Singh Bhullar said that he made this statement in lighter vein and in view of the recent Supreme Court ruling while hearing the case related to the ban on vends of poppy husk in Rajasthan.
"The youth of Punjab are dying due to the intake of chemical or synthetic drugs, which are freely available in the SAD-BJP regime. As such drugs only cause deaths I had supported opening of vends of poppy husk and opium, as these do not kill people," he added while making it clear that he was not in favour of any type of drug.
On Peter's allegations, Bhullar said that a number of his supporters had been booked in false NDPS cases at the behest of Valtoha.