The Enforcement Directorate’s questioning of Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s supporting the Shiromani Akali Dal during no-confidence motion in the assembly were issues that the Congress raised on Saturday during its Fatehgarh Sahib Shaheedi Jor Mela rally.
Addressing party workers, state Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa said if voted to power, the party would eliminate drug addiction from Punjab in a year. “We will open special courts for daily trials in drug cases, make the names of drug lords public, and confiscate their assets,” said Bajwa, condemning the SAD and the BJP over the issue. “The Congress will form the next government and take the Majithia case to its logical conclusion,” he said, adding: “Majithia’s family might say he isn’t involved in drug trade, but 60% of the liquor that sells in Punjab comes from his distilleries.”
Former chief minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and Congress leaders Kaka Randeep Singh and Kuljeet Singh Nagra also condemned the BJP.
“In public, the BJP criticises Majithia over the drug issue and demands his resignation, but in the assembly, it supports the government over the issue,” said Bhattal. “They have been partners in the crime for the past more than seven years in which drug, sand, liquor, and transport mafia have flourished in Punjab,” she added.
The leaders also raised the issue of Punjab’s poor financial health and how the state had failed to secure special grants from the Centre. “Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal always accused the previous Congress regime at the Centre of being biased against Punjab. Now he should go after the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government that has not given the state even a penny, so far,” said Bhattal.
Former state Congress president Shamsher Singh Dullo and legislator Sadhu Singh Dharamsot, Gurkirat Kotli, and Amrik Singh were among the other people present.
A different ghar wapsi
The Punjab chief minister on Saturday gave a call for ghar wapsi of a different kind. Speaking at the political convention organised on the last day of the three-day Shaheedi Jor Mela, Parkash Singh Badal exhorted Sikh youth to come back to the fold of the Sikhi Swaroop (the true Sikh look complete with unshorn hair and pagri). Badal said Sikhism was facing its biggest threat from inside the religion. “Thousands of people come here (at Fatehgarh Sahib) each year and bow their heads before the Guru Granth Sahib. But this is not enough. We have to ask our youth to preserve our religion, our culture,” he said, adding that the biggest role could be played by Sikh parents. “I have seen young children – five- to six-year-olds from Sikh families with shorn hair. What can the government do in this? Or, for that matter, what can the Shiromani committee (SGPC) do? The parents have to stop this,” he said.
Film resurrects mela
Char Sahibzaade, the film based on the life of the four sons of Guru Gobind Singh, which is said to have set a new record in terms of popularity, seems to have resurrected the Shaheedi Jor Mela. The three-day event was teeming with people. However, the milling crowds did not seem interested in political conferences, which attracted only a limited participation. The last day saw thousands visiting the historical Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib with their children. The historical wall, where the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh were bricked alive, has been preserved in this gurdwara. Most of the speakers at various political conventions also spoke about the film. Anandpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra said her seven-year-old granddaughter wept several times while watching the film and it had left a deep impact on the child about the sacrifices made by the Sikh gurus.
Visitors bowled over
All roads leading to Fatehgarh Sahib were dotted with langars (free food counters) organised by the people from the villages falling on the roadsides. The variety of dishes had the people spoilt for choice. Sikh weapon replicas, Gurmat literature, and CDs of Gurmat sangeet sold like hot cakes. The mela had its share of lost and found with the police counter announcing a lost child almost every hour.