Punjab Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Sunil Jakhar on Wednesday said in the Vidhan Sabha that in his opinion revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia was not involved in the shady deals of the recently busted drug racket.
The CLP leader's surprising move on the floor of the House is contrary to the stand of Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa who had been raising the pitch for a CBI-led probe into this racket while demanding resignation of revenue and public relations minister Majithia, who is a brother-in-law of deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
After the arrested wrestler-turned-druglord Jagdish Singh Bhola on January 6 had alleged that Majithia was the kingpin of the drug racket, prompting the Congress to demand a CBI probe, former chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had also taken a diametrically opposite stand. On January 10, Capt Amarinder while opposing the Congress' demand to transfer this case from the state police to the central agency had said it would mean playing into the hands of criminals and vested interests.
"Those who have vested interests are demanding shifting of the probe of this case to the CBI…," the Captain had said in a signed statement, endorsing the ongoing Punjab Police investigation into an unfolding, multi-layered drug mafia that has raised the political temperature in the border state.
Now, Jakhar's statement is also set to further blunt the Congress's attack on the ruling Akali Dal on the issue in the run-up to forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Not this, Jakhar's stand brings to the fore the sharp differences within the faction-ridden Congress's strategy to corner the ruling SAD-BJP on the issue.
On Wednesday, the attempts of the opposition Congress to strike deep inside the ruling Akali Dal-BJP regime by using the recently busted multi-crore drug racket as an ammunition lacked the firepower, precision and the much-needed punch during the Vidhan Sabha proceedings.
Instead of causing embarrassment to revenue and public relations minister Majithia, the CLP leader said he hoped the minister was not involved. The opposition also attempted to corner another Akali minister Sarwan Singh Phillaur on the drug issue and BJP minister Anil Joshi for having made votes in two different constituencies. As the Congress was unable to put the government on the back foot, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal responded, saying: "The planning of the CLP leader has failed. He should seek my advice…"
Leading the party's attack during the Zero Hour, Jakhar said: "I hope and believe Majithia is not involved." The statement brought cheers on the faces of the ruling party members and the revenue minister who was finding himself in the dock so far and he quickly applauded Jakhar for giving the "clean chit".
"If somebody does anything wrong he will pay for it," Majithia said, responding to Jakhar's contention that Youth Akali Dal activists could be involved in the wrongdoings.
Later, during the debate on the motion of thanks on the governor's address, the CLP leader again attempted to strike within the government on the drug racket issue while cautioning Majithia that he was under attack from within the SAD. "I definitely have a soft corner for Majithia," Jakhar said. "There is something fishy. There is somebody in this establishment (SAD-BJP government)…not happy with your (Majithia's) performance," the CLP leader said, indirectly saying that Bhola accusing Majithia was stage-managed. Jakhar wondered why and who in advance had tipped off the media that Bhola would say something while being produced before the court at SAS Nagar.
"Punjab police are fixing people…This is why we are seeking a CBI probe," Jakhar said.
Earlier, the CLP leader said the government had failed to keep its promise of adopting zero tolerance to drug menace. This prompted the chief minister who challenged the opposition: "Let there be a debate. Let the Congress field its specialists on drugs, who are aware of this trade. We will prove our point."
At this the deputy CM interjected, saying: "No one can match our efforts and the scale and size of the war we have waged against drugs."