Amid the ongoing controversy over the “Udta Punjab”, Punjab Congress chief Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday citied a new survey claiming that 78% of the population in Punjab is hooked to drugs.
“A few years back, Rahul ji had disclosed that 70% of the population of our state is hooked to drugs. Now, a new survey has come stating that the 78% of people are hooked to drugs. Those between the age group of 18 and 44 are the worse hit,” claimed Amarinder in his speech at the dharna here, without disclosing the source of the study.
Referring to the deteriorating law and order situation in Punjab, he said, the Namdhari matriarch was killed about two months ago and then Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale was attacked.
“In Jalandhar, a Congress worker was shot dead in broad daylight. Today only, an electrician succumbed to his injuries in Jalandhar after he was beaten up by a BJP leader close to state party president Vijay Sampla. Punjab has become a law-less state,” claimed Amarinder.
No seating arrangement
Even as the dharna was well-attended with impressive crowd, including women and youths, the seating arrangements were not up to the mark. Since the crowd was seated on both sides of the stage, Rahul and other Congress leaders remained visible to only a few hundred workers sitting around the VIP gallery. A large number of people were seen outside the dharna venue.
Factionalism to fore
Factionalism came to the fore at the dharna as former Punjab Congress chief and Rajya Sabha member Partap Singh Bajwa was stopped midway from addressing the workers by rally coordinator Rana Gurjit Singh due to shortage of time. Irritated, Bajwa lambasted Rana and said he was expecting this from him.
“Rana ji, I knew that you will not allow me to speak in front of Rahul Gandhi. I was expecting this from you,” Bajwa said. The former state party chief was given a chance to speak after junior leaders, including Fatehgarh Sahib MLA Kuljit Nagra.
Bajwa did not forget to mention that under his leadership, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe was demanded into the allegations against revenue minister Bikrim Singh Majithia for his alleged involvement in the drug racket. He smartly referred to the role of Amarinder, who had objected to the demand of a CBI probe against Majithia. Both Bajwa and Captain didn’t even wish each other.
Jakhar gets special treatment
Having strained relations with Amarinder as per media reports, former CLP leader Sunil Jakhar received special treatment at the dharna. In order to bring him back in the mainstream with Amarinder, Jakhar was made head of the reception committee of Rahul at the Adampur air force station along with MLA Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Punjab Youth Congress chief Amarpreet Lalli and PCC general secretary Tejinder Bittu. Jakhar was seated on a sofa even as seniors leaders, including, Lal Singh, were sitting on the floor.
· In his speech, Rahul could not read the word “khudde-line” (sidelined) properly while giving reference to the role of Punjab Police. He read it as “ache police officers khude-ki-line main lga rakhe hain”
· Just before Rahul’s speech, Amarinder was seen offering toffee to Rahul. The Congress vice-president humbly took it from the PCC chief but passed it on to Jalandhar MP Santokh Chauhdary, who was sitting next to Rahul
· When Rahul went in the VVIP enclosure, he noticed Manpreet Badal sitting isolated on the floor with the second-line leadership. He immediately instructed one of the Congress leaders to call Manpreet inside and got a seat vacated for him
· Though a majority of the crowd was from Doaba, leaders and workers from all over the state had come to attend dharna
· Sufi singer Hans Raj Hans sung a song in praise of Rahul, which he claimed to have written this morning
· CLP leader Charanjit Singh Channi, who remained ignored throughout the rally, drove Rahul’s car to the Adampur air force station with Amarinder and Soni accompanying them
· After end of dharna, Rahul met three leaders from Doaba — Hans Raj hans, former minister Avtar Henry and Tejinder Bittu