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CM, deputy differ on nature of border rallies

punjab Updated: Jan 04, 2015 21:39 IST
Sachin Sharma
Sachin Sharma
Hindustan Times
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Deputy chief minister (CM) Sukhbir Singh Badal seems to disagree with CM Parkash Singh Badal on nature of Akali protests coming up on the Pakistan border on Monday (January 5).

While the CM has called it a “mass awareness” programme, his deputy has said categorically that it is a protest to get the Border Security Force (BSF) to be more alert and stop drug flow into the state. Sukhbir said here on Saturday that his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), would hold dharnas at a border post each in Fazilka, Ferozepur, and Attari.

He was here with his wife and Union food processing industries minister, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, to inspect the Nathana notified area committee (NAC) works. On December 30, 2014, after the SAD core committee meeting where party secretary and Rajya Sabha member Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa had opposed the decision on dharnas against the BSF, the CM had said that it was a mass-awareness programme and not protest.

Asked to react, Sukhbir had said dharnas and awareness programme were “one and the same thing”. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in his latest monthly radio address to the nation acknowledged the seriousness of the drug problem in Punjab, the deputy CM had said the state was being defamed. The state public relations department issued advertisements on Saturday, put the onus on central agencies.

“Our dharnas, though, are not against the BSF, the central agencies have failed to stop drugs trafficking from across the international border. Punjab Police have done a commendable job, on the other hand, by confiscating a huge quantity of drugs,” said Sukhbir, advising the BSF to upgrade its technology and identify the black sheep within.

Crying foul over “the defaming of Punjab” and at the same time questioning open drug sale in the BJP-ruled states, he said “Punjab cultivates wheat and paddy, while Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh grow opium and poppy”.

On objections from party secretary Dhindsa, Sukhbir said holding the protests was a party decision. On the ally’s impending anti-drug campaign in the state from January 22, he said every party had own agenda and freedom to work on it.

Maintaining the tough stand adopted during Shaheedi Jor Mela in Fatehgarh Sahib against religious conversions, he termed the campaign “a drama that should stop”.