The pledge of the "Belan Brigade" constituted by city-based NGOs Mahatar Sathi Jagriti Manch and Navkiran Women Welfare Association to fight against the distribution of drugs, money and liquor in the Lok Sabha elections, has caught fancy of candidates of the Aam Aadmi Party, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and even those contesting independently.
As the NGOs kick-started their campaign at the martyrs' memorial on Jagraon bridge on Saturday, AAP candidate Harvinder Singh Phoolka, SAD candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali and independent contestant Simarjit Singh Bains visited the spot promising the women brigade carrying "belans" (rolling pins) to fight against the menace of buying votes.
Drug menace in Punjab has been repeatedly highlighted by the Congress party in its functions organised in Punjab, wherein SAD was held responsible for not checking the menace despite knowing that more than 60% of the youth was addicted to liquor and narcotic substances in the state.
Not to miss the furore created by the Bhola drug racket case wherein the kingpin had alleged the involvement of Youth Akali Dal and SAD leaders, including Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia.
Dozens of women, including homemakers, advocates and teachers, carrying rolling pins raised slogans against drugs and corruption, asking the political parties to do away with the practice of buying votes.
Veena Kalia, an advocate said, "We plan to go door to door in areas where the electorate becomes an easy prey to money, liquor and drugs, to create awareness against selling of votes."
SAD candidate Manpreet Singh Ayali has been taking out rallies against drug addiction and corruption in his assembly constituency Dakha a few weeks prior to the announcement of his candidature.
However, MLA Simarjit Singh Bains, who is a SAD rebel, and announced his independent Lok Sabha candidature last week, is propagating against Ayali, accusing him of having doled out "drugs and other sedatives" to youth in his constituency.
Now, this platform of belan brigade has come as an opportunity for Ayali to prove that his rallies against drugs and corruption were earnest.
Ayali in his address at the campaign on Saturday said, "The parties are not interested in distributing liquor, drugs or money, but people demand for these things."
His statement resulted in an on-the-spot debate, as the belan brigade asked the SAD leaders and workers to stick to fair practices.
Also, his statement was criticised by Bains, who will not hesitate to use it as ammunition against him.
Phoolka was an instant hit with the brigade as he said that he would always support the good cause irrespective of the result of his election contest.