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HindustanTimes Wed,26 Nov 2014

No caste-based rallies are held in Punjab, says Badal

PTI  Chandigarh, July 12, 2013
First Published: 18:18 IST(12/7/2013) | Last Updated: 18:20 IST(12/7/2013)

A day after Allahabad high court stayed caste-based rallies in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said on Friday that no political rally in the state is held on the basis of caste.

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"There is no caste in politics...no political rally is held on the basis of caste," he told reporters here.

Badal, who is also patron of Shiromani Akali Dal, said his party is secular.

"Shiromani Akali Dal is most secular party...we fight political battle...MLAs from all religions are in SAD," he said.

He was reacting to the Allahabad High Court's verdict.

When reporters drew his attention towards the state government's move to purchase helicopter and two luxury cars worth crores of rupees despite facing financial problems, Badal said that "all governments have there helicopters ...Himachal Pardesh government had two helicopters...some states have even ten...but Punjab has just one and that too on rent."

"The helicopter with the Punjab government is on rent and we have to spend much on it," he said justifying the government's move.

"Congress is levelling baseless charges on purchase of helicopters and cars...Congress in Punjab is agenda-less," he said.

Referring to the Centre's Food Security Ordinance, Badal said that the UPA government had followed Punjab. "The Punjab government is already giving 'atta and dal' at subsidised rates to poor," he said.

On the recent claim by Bhakra Beas Management Authorities (BBMB) that people have occupied illegal lands on river courses, he said that "no encroachment is taking place along river or in its courses in the state."  However, the chief minister said, "Some people hav private property inside river courses in which they do agriculture and had set up their homes."  He also allayed fears that flood threat loomed large over Punjab as claimed by BBMB. "We are prepared to face floods," he added.

Badal said that the apex court's recent verdict, in which it ruled that a lawmaker loses membership of either Parliament or state Assembly the moment he or she gets convicted, is "acceptable to us".

"We are bound to follow it...this is acceptable to us," he said.

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