After a ‘dry spell’ of nearly five years, it has finally started raining funds on Dhuri – thanks to the assembly byelection necessitated by MLA Arvind Khanna’s resignation.
On the first day of his sangat darshan here on Wednesday, Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal doled out Rs 2.16 crore for nine villages. This amount is more than what the entire constituency comprising 85 villages and two towns has got in the past more than two years. The CM also directed officials to execute the canal-lining project, which was announced earlier, at a cost of Rs 33 crore.
The CM’s previous sangat darshan in Dhuri was held in 2010. On Wednesday, Badal conducted sangat darshan in the villages of Bhasaur, Banbhouri, Belewal, Darogewal, Eesra, Loharmajra, Eesi, Theri Jattan and Dandogal and announced grants worth crores of rupees. He plans to cover all villages of the assembly segment till January 29.
The Dhuri bypoll is particularly crucial for the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) as a victory here would give the party a majority in the House on its own, without ally BJP’s support.
Rejecting the Opposition’s charge on the state government’s ‘new-found’ interest in Dhuri, Badal said his sangat darshan here had no link with the byelection. Rather, the state government’s sole aim has been to ensure development and prosperity, he added.
The CM further said, “It has been decided to hold sangat darshan in one assembly segment each of Majha and Doaba every month, while the programme would be held in two assembly constituencies of Malwa on a monthly basis. Under this arrangement, sangat darshan is being organised in Dhuri.”
He claimed that sangat darshan programmes were the best way to redress people’s grievances on a single platform.
Meanwhile, Arvind Khanna took a dig at the state government. In a comment posted on Facebook, he said, “I am glad that my resignation from the Punjab Vidhan Sabha will at least bring some much-required development to the ‘halqa’ (segment) of Dhuri. I am glad that, even if it is for political reasons and the bypoll, the Punjab CM has plans to do a sangat darshan and hopefully he will give money towards much pending development projects that I have also requested in the past for the villages of Dhuri.”
Prominent among those who accompanied Badal included SAD secretary general Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Punjab finance minister Parminder Singh Dhindsa.
New protest venue
With all eyes on Dhuri, unemployed and employee unions have picked the assembly constituency for their protests. Three unemployed union members on Wednesday started a protest atop a water tank, threatening to immolate themselves. Unemployed youths, who have purportedly cleared TET (teacher eligibility test), are also holding a protest, demanding jobs.
Warring slams YC leaders’ detention
Indian Youth Congress president Amrinder Singh Raja Warring has condemned the detention of leaders of the Youth Congress and the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) here when they were “peacefully demonstrating against the drug menace in Punjab”, while chief minister Parkash Singh Badal was holding sangat darshan at Jainpur village of Dhuri constituency. Warring said these leaders were peacefully showing black flags to the CM to bring his attention to the drug menace. The police detained Dalvir Singh Goldy, national coordinator, NSUI, along with seven Youth Congress leaders.