Taking up the Punjab drug issue once again, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi not only accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of ignoring it, but in the process also threw a clear hint that Capt Amarinder Singh is the party’s chief ministerial candidate.
Rahul, who was here to release ‘Fading Glory’, Sadhavi Khosla’s 50-minute documentary film on the state’s drug issue, said it was important to break the police-peddler-politician nexus to end the problem.
He told state Congress president Amarinder: “When your government comes next, the first task for you is to break the police-peddler-politician nexus. Punjab’s youth are capable, but if we don’t assure them of a good future, they will slip into drugs.”
It was at a rally in Amritsar again that Rahul had declared Amarinder as the CM candidate before the 2012 polls, which the Congress had lost. Amarinder was removed as state president in favour of Partap Singh Bajwa but things appeared to have come full circle on Friday, less than a year ahead of the next assembly polls.
Later in his speech, Amarinder reiterated his resolve to end the drug menace “within four weeks of coming to power”, and said he was bound by the oath he had taken on Gutka Sahib during Badlaav (change) Rally in Bathinda where he had taken over as state unit chief.
Rahul also said, “Last time I came to Punjab and said 70% of the state’s youth was on drugs, fun was made of me. Badal sahib said the figure was exaggerated. The question is not if it is 70, 60, 50 or 40%, but how much damage it has done. Today, Punjab has lost its path.”
He said he had “only one complaint against Modi-ji and Badal sahib”, that “when I took up the issue, they did not listen; at least when the entire Punjab says drugs are a problem, you should listen. He appreciated Khosla for highlighting the pain of the people who had lost loved ones to drugs.
He said he didn’t belong to the state but as a child he had heard stories of Punjab. “People from the state go into the army, become good pilots. In school, we used to read that Punjab was India’s food bowl; but things now have gone down,” said Rahul.
Amarinder too accused deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal of denying the very existence of the problem in Punjab. He said the state government was catching only small-time drug addicts and not touching any of the big fish.
He also called for a national drug policy to have uniform drug laws across the country. Otherwise, he said, there were states such as Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where growing or trading in opium was legal, and there were states such as Punjab that had become fertile market for drugs.
The documentary was screened in a local theatre, where Congress leaders Shakeel Ahmad, Ambika Soni, and Partap Singh Bajwa were present too.
Producer: ‘I was a Rahul critic but now a fan’
Stressing that Punjab’s drug problem pained her, ‘Fading Glory’ producer Sadhavi Khosla thanked Rahul Gandhi for coming all the way to release the documentary film.
She said during her address that whenever she met people affected by drugs in Punjab, people told her that their voice must be taken up in Delhi. “As Rahul Gandhi was the first person to raise the voice against drug menace in Punjab, I invited him.” She said, “I criticised him earlier but did not knew that he was such a wonderful human being.”
“My only motive of making this movie was to show the pain of Punjab. I have no other motive,” she added.
She was widely appreciated by Congress leaders and Capt Amarinder said the movie would be taken to all colleges and universities.