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Badal asks Congress to cooperate, not confront

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, March 18, 2013
First Published: 21:42 IST(18/3/2013) | Last Updated: 21:44 IST(18/3/2013)

Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Monday asked the Congress to shun the politics of "confrontation" and embrace the "policy of cooperation."

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In an effort to break the Vidhan Sabha logjam, the CM sought an explicit apology from the Opposition "to the speaker" for the March 13 ruckus inside and outside the House.

Badal also slammed the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for meting out "step-motherly treatment" to Punjab and demanded scrapping of all central schemes, apart from direct transfer of 50% of central taxes to states.

Winding up the debate on the governor's address in the Vidhan Sabha, Badal's more than 90-minute-long speech in the absence of the Opposition, which is boycotting the session after nine Congress MLAs were suspended for unruly conduct, lacked spark as well as sting.

"The policy of confrontation is the flagship scheme of the Congress," Badal said. "When in power, the Congress adopts the politics of vendetta, and when out of power, they adopt the policy of confrontation."

Describing as "very shameful" the conduct of Congress legislators who manhandled the watch and ward staff and later sat on the speaker's chair, and allegedly thrashed a "cop on duty" outside the House, the chief minister said: "It was rape and murder of democracy."

Badal said the Congress had attacked the speaker by capturing the 'chair', while urging the speaker not to gloss over this issue. Earlier during the day, Badal repeatedly reminded the speaker that the Congress must tender an apology.

"In fact it was an attack on you (speaker). Had you not left the House the moment you had entered (when Congress captured the speaker's podium), anything could have happened," Badal said. "The Congress must apologise to you. Without an apology to the speaker, the Congress leaders should not be let off," he said.

The chief minister regretted that Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) chief Partap Singh Bajwa, soon after being appointed state Congress chief, had begun advocating the policy of confronting the government.

He indirectly reminded Bajwa how his predecessor, Capt Amarinder Singh, was removed in the manner identical to summary dismissal of government employees under Article 311 of the Constitution. "But I wish the Captain well…What a misfortune that his close associates decamped the moment he was removed," Badal quipped.

But Badal was quick to soften his position, too, urging the Congress to end this stalemate and saying that he was ready to even "go to houses of opposition leaders" requesting them to attend proceedings of the assembly.

Seeking cooperation and support from the Opposition, Badal, however, appealed to them to sink their differences for the overall development of the state and well-being of its people. Badal said he always held the Opposition in high esteem and adopted a constructive approach towards them, thereby impressing upon them to work collectively for the betterment of Punjab and rising above narrow and vested political affiliations. He urged the Congress "with all humility to shun the path of confrontation" to usher an era of politics of consensus.

'Scrap central schemes'
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal called for a nationwide political initiative to recast the Constitution along federal lines, scrapping of all central schemes, besides a provision for direct transfer of 50% of central taxes to states. Badal asked the Centre to desist from usurping powers vested in states by the Constitution under the state list.

Demanding scrapping of centrally sponsored schemes which, he said, were arbitrarily based on parameters suited to the Centre, Badal asked the union government to transfer funds directly to the states. He said the central government retained 67.5% of all tax collected and merely 32.5% was devolved to the states. He said even chief ministers of Congress-ruled states were of the opinion that the federal structure needed to be strengthened.

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