Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has slammed the opposition Congress for "unnecessarily hyping" the sensitive issue of the Operation Bluestar memorial and urged the media to cooperate in maintaining peace in the state.
Faced with a barrage of questions on Shiromani Akali Dal's (SAD) stand on the issue, Badal said it had a mature understanding with alliance partner Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). This, he said, was making the Congress uncomfortable and it was looking for opportunities to disturb the peace in the state for "petty political games".
Badal made these comments while sharing the stage with state BJP president Ashwani Sharma and national vice-president and state affairs in-charge Shanta Kumar here on Monday.
The chief minister said as the Congress was embroiled in scams, it wanted to divert attention from them by breaching communal harmony in the state even after being shown the door during the assembly elections earlier this year.
On the deaths due to gastroenteritis in Batala, Badal admitted there were lapses in the sewerage system and supply of drinking water, which had become contaminated.
"It is a serious issue and I have taken it up as top priority," Badal said. "The work of laying the sewerage system would be completed in the entire state. I am deeply concerned with the rising gastroenteritis toll. I am heading to Batala to take stock of the situation."
When asked why the work of laying the sewerage system was not time-bound as was evident in Pathankot, where it has been lying unfinished for years, the chief minister said, "We are planning to give the contract to one contractor, who would not only lay the pipes, but also build the roads and maintain the infrastructure for a stipulated time to avoid a repeat of the current situation."
On the stone crushing ban in the state, while it was allowed in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, Badal said: "Some policies framed by the Centre have left us helpless. I would try to resolve the case by taking it up with the Centre."