Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh joined the nation in celebrating the 64th Republic day amid tight security on Saturday. Contingents of police, homeguards, NCC and schoolchildren among others participated in parades held at several district headquarters in the two states and their joint capital Chandigarh.
Punjab governor Shivraj Patil and Haryana governor Jagannath Pahadia unfurled the tri-colour at Ropar and Faridabad respectively, while Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and his Haryana counterpart Bhupinder Singh Hooda took salute at Amritsar and Rewari. In Chandigarh, KK Sharma, adviser to the UT administrator, unfurled the national flag and took the salute.
Functions to mark Republic Day were also organised at other district headquarters in Punjab and Haryana. Security had been stepped up in the two states and Chandigarh to ensure that Republic Day celebrations passed off peacefully.
Need a genuine federal structure: CM
In Amritsar, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said setting up of "genuine a federal structure" in the country was the need of hour to fulfill the ideas of justice, equality and liberty enshrined in the Constitution. Addressing a gathering after unfurling the national tricolor at Gandhi Ground here, the CM said the framers of our Constitution had envisaged a "federal structure to ensure the well being of all sections of society".
"But the policy of successive Congress governments at the Centre to usurp the powers of the states has today turned India into a unitary state," he said. The CM said it was unfortunate that "the unitary structure of governance in the country had given birth to a number of problems". "Because of this, the dreams of our forefathers still remain unfulfilled," he said.
The CM pointed to the minimum support price for crops to make his point. "As per the Constitution, agriculture was a state subject. But now the Centre fixes the minimum support price (MSP) of crops and finalises the prices of diesel and fertilizers," he said.
He blamed low MSP and escalating costs of agricultural inputs for farming being a non-profitable venture. "It is because of such ill-conceived policies that hard-working farmers are reeling under heavy debts," he said.
Sukhbir vows to intensify crusade against drug addiction
Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Saturday asked parents to play a pro-active role in taking special care of their teenage children to save them from falling in the trap of drug addiction.
Addressing a gathering after unfurling the national flag at the multi-purpose stadium in Bathinda on Republic Day, the deputy chief minister promised to continue the "crusade against the menace of drug addiction". He also underlined the need for bringing more sensitivity towards the core issue of gender equality by empowering women.
Badal pointed out that Punjab being on the transit route of international drug traffickers always remained vulnerable. "But due to the concerted efforts of the police, drug recoveries have increased manifold," he said, adding that the "crusade" would continue and nobody would be allowed to ruin the youth of the state.
The deputy CM also spoke on crimes against women. "Recent cases of assault on women serve us as a grim reminder that we have faltered when it comes to gender sensitisation," he said.
He said society had also lagged behind in educating the girl child, besides checking the menace of female foeticide. He said it was high time the country launched a sustained programme to empower women.
"The state government has dedicated 2013 to the empowerment of women. We vow to become an active partner in this campaign to save humanity from extinction," he said. The deputy CM congratulated the people of Punjab on the occasion of Republic Day. Badal went on to praise the Indian Constitution. "It is because of the strength of our Constitution and our belief in democratic values that India has become mature enough to ensure smooth transition of governments by the use of ballot paper," he said.