There seems to be no end in sight to the 'politics of garbage' between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP, with local leaders of both the parties continuing to take jibes at each other.
With the senior leaders of both the parties not showing any signs of reining in their respective party functionaries, sharp exchanges between local leaders continued on Wednesday. The centre of controversy continues to be the Bhagtanwala garbage dump.
SAD leader and the city's senior deputy mayor, Avtar Singh Truckanwala once again pointed an accusing finger at local bodies minister Anil Joshi, blaming him for not tackling the garbage problem in the Bhagtanwala locality, which had made life miserable for the residents of the area.
He expressed his support for the residents of the area who had been sitting on a dharna for over two weeks demanding that the dump be shifted as it had not only caused pollution but had also led to health problems.
He, in fact, echoed the views of his senior party colleague and chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Inderbir Singh Bolaria, who is the MLA from Amritsar South constituency wherein the Bhagtanwala garbage dump falls.
Bolaria had last week made it clear that he will not allow any further dumping of the city's wastes at Bhagtanwala and had suggested that all five assembly segments of the city should have their own garbage dumping grounds.
Neither Joshi nor the district BJP chief Naresh Sharma reacted to Truckanwala's charge. Sharma, who had last week held the Akalis responsible for the drug addiction in Punjab, preferred not to say a word, allowing his junior colleagues to take on the senior deputy mayor.
BJP LEADER HITS BACK
In a joint statement, Sukhwinder Singh Pintu, councillor and district BJP general secretary; Manav Taneja, Punjab Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) vice-president and Baldev Raj Bagga, a senior councillor, advised the senior deputy mayor to check his facts before blaming the local bodies minister.
"You should know that the garbage dump has been earmarked in the master plan that has been prepared for Amritsar. Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal has approved this master plan and he is also the chairman of the committee formed for overseeing the execution of various developmental projects," they added.
The BJP leaders also pointed out that the garbage dump had the approval of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) which functions directly under the supervision of the Deputy CM.
"I think you (Truckanwala) should move out of garbage politics as there are far more serious issues in Punjab. The most serious one is the drug addiction issue", they said while calling upon the senior deputy mayor and all his SAD colleagues to introspect before indulging in the blame game.
The BJP leaders also seized the opportunity to remind the SAD leaders that they should take up issues like the "heavy dose of tax" levied on marriage palaces and the VAT on diesel and petrol with the Deputy CM.
"The public will be grateful to you if you can convince your leadership to lower the VAT of petroleum products and on marriage palaces," they added.
AKALIS TAKE ON SIDHU
The local SAD leaders who had been concentrating their energies on attacking Anil Joshi and questioning the sources of his "wealth" after the garbage dump issue came into focus, shifted their target to former Amritsar MP and BJP leader Navjot Singh Sidhu.
Taking a cue from revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia, the district unit of the SAD said that a person like Sidhu could never be trusted. They were reacting to Sidhu's outbursts at a recent function in Ludhiana against the 'dusht raj' (rule of demons) in Punjab.
"If a person could backstab his guru (Arun Jaitley) during the Lok Sabha polls, then how could anyone trust him", the Akali leaders said in a joint statement issued from the office of the district unit of the party.
They repeated Majithia's claim that had it not been for SAD, Sidhu could not have won the 2009 Lok Sabha poll from Amritsar.