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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

SAD-BJP conflict to fore as Badal hits back at Kamal

Ravinder Vasudeva, Hindustan Times  Begowal (Kapurthala), June 04, 2014
First Published: 07:28 IST(4/6/2014) | Last Updated: 07:32 IST(4/6/2014)

Differences between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the BJP in Punjab once again came to the fore on Tuesday with chief minister Parkash Singh Badal slamming state BJP chief Kamal Sharma for his recent remarks against the government on the issues of drugs and mafia.

The chief minister, who was at Begowal to participate in the death anniversary of Baba Prem Singh Muraalewale, organised by Bholath MLA Bibi Jagir Kaur, challenged the state BJP chief to come up with the list of “big fish” in drug peddling and hand it over to him for action.

“Sharma meets me often but he has never talked about such issues. If he has any proof or a list of drug peddlers, he should hand it over to me. I don’t understand why he is issuing such statements,” he said.

In his recent statements and in a recent interview to HT, the BJP state chief had said, “The drug trade in the state is flourishing with political patronage and there is need to catch the big fish.” Sharma had also underlined the need to shed the “mafia” tag put on the government on various issues.

“About the mafia tag, I don’t have anything to say. Sharma seems more intelligent, you should ask him as only he can explain it to you better,” said the chief minister sarcastically, when asked to respond on the mafia issue. Badal said he had called a meeting of BJP leaders in Chandigarh in the evening and would discuss the matter. “We will take action against every big or small fish engaged in the heinous crime. Even I will not hesitate to resign if any proof regarding my involvement in drugs is found,” he said.

When asked as to why revenue minister Bikram Majithia had not resigned even as his name had cropped up in the drug racket, the chief minister said there was no proof against Majithia. “The day we get the proof, we will not hesitate from initiating action. We will not spare anybody -- the big fish or the small,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s sudden opposition to the SAD policies after the poll debacle in the state has baffled the coalition partner in Punjab. Sources say the chief minister has also spoken to senior party leaders in Delhi about Sharma’s recent outburst.

On the issue of property tax, the chief minister said that in the larger interest of the public, the SAD-BJP government would soon review it.

“Property tax in urban areas was the collective decision of the SAD-BJP government.

But following the resentment, the state government is bound to review it,” he said.

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