Known as a cool customer, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Sunday got really hot about state Waqf board chairman Izhar Alam making hate speech in his presence and snubbed him publicly.
For the first time, he looked like disowning the former director general of police, whose wife, Farzana Alam, defeated Congress heavyweight Razia Sultana in the 2012 assembly election here. Upset with Alam, Badal even turned down his request for grant to Muslim institution Imarat-e-Sharia, saying: "I have no money for any unplanned announcement. Send me the plan; I will see."
Speaking before him, Alam had said that Muslims being in significant number in Punjab could swing the election result any way they like and the state government should treat them unfairly. "Muslims are being maltreated," he said. "We are not getting any land for graveyards. The authorities don't listen to us."
"The Muslims of Punjab have stronghold in 20 assembly constituencies, and if they can help a party win elections in the state, they can also defeat it," Alam said, which raised the CM's eyebrows.
The former DGP then embarrassed the government with a remark about the bygone dark days of militancy. "Muslims have a strong bond with Sikhs. Even during militancy it was seen, as the gunmen killed either Hindus or Sikhs but no one touched Muslims," he said, at which the CM got the stage authorities to cut short the former DGP. Alam still had time to pitch for Rs 50 lakh as donation for Imarat-e-Sharia.
At his turn to speak, the CM not only told Alam that militancy was against all humanity but also reminded him that the "biggest achievement of the government had been that it had ensured communal harmony and peace in the state". Angry, he declined to give any grant for the building Alam had sought. When Alam got up from his chair to interrupt the CM and remind him of the request, the CM snubbed him. "I have no money for gurdwaras, temples or mosques," he said. "Tell me if you have any plan for the community. I will allocate enough money but not announce it here."
To keep his Muslim vote bank intact, the CM said the state would rid the Waqf property of encroachment to enable the board to use the land as source of income for the welfare of the community. Lauding the institution of Imarat-e-Sharia, he said that it would help unite the Muslims.
The CM left the function after only 35 minutes, not giving the community anything. Alam's wife, chief parliamentary secretary Farzana Nisaara Khatoon, later, declared a contribution of Rs 10 lakh. Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, member of the Rajya Sabha, also left the programme midway.