The sangat darshan, a much- sought after programme of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal aimed at establishing direct contact with the people, was at the centre of the Punjab Congress’ offensive against the ruling SAD-BJP coalition during the third day of the Vidhan Sabha session here on Wednesday.
Though the Congress made a determined bid to ambush Badal dubbing sangat darshans an exercise in futility and wastage of public money, the five-time chief minister’s counter offensive left the Opposition visibly defenseless.
Unable to corner the government on this issue, the Congress later staged a walkout on the ground that speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal did not allow more time for zero hour. The Opposition staged another walkout after the Property Tax Bill was being passed by voice vote following a lengthy discussion.
WARRING OPENS VERBAL ASSAULT
The first-time Congress MLA from Gidderbaha, Amarinder Singh Raja Warring, who during the Budget session had also punched the watch and ward staff of the Vidhan Sabha, opened the verbal assault against the chief minister during the zero hour and immediately after the question hour was over. Displaying unusual aggression and thumping his chest, Warring was heard shouting and scowling, causing uproar in the House. Meanwhile, other Congress MLAs also joined Warring.
Taking exception to Warring’s contentions, SADMLAs Amarpal Singh Ajnala and Inderbir Singh Bolaria opened the counter-attack of the treasury benches.
Pandemonium prevailed in the House and Warring was at his best at provoking the SADBJP MLAs by his aggressive gestures. At this chief minister, in his characteristic style, tried to counsel the Congress MLA Warring, saying: “Sun le kaka (listen son), I am an in-charge of the whole state. It is the result of this sangat darshan that I have become chief minister for the fifth time.”
Badal wondered at whose behest this first- time MLA was raising this issue time and again.
‘LISTEN MORE, TALK LESS’
Advising the Congress leaders to listen more and talk less, Badal said his sangat darshan initiative was a flagship programme of the Shiromani Akali Dal and will continue. “This programme has helped people resolve their long-pending issues in minutes as it helps them to have a direct contact with the government.”
But the Opposition MLAs were not convinced. “This programme proves the failure of the delivery system,” CLP leader Sunil Kumar Jakhar said, questioning the need of such visits by the chief minister. “Then why do you go to meet your constituents as an MLA,” deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal questioned Jakhar. “Had you (Congress) done sangat darshan you could have come back to power.”
Taking their counter-offensive to the next level, revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia said he felt sor ry for the level of thinking of the Congress leaders who are questioning the efficacy of sangat darshan. The chief minister said the issue of sangat darshan had been debated and discussed even in the courts and it will continue. “You should appreciate sangat darshan. This programme has made me five-time chief minister,” he added.