Even as it has been officially announced that the proposed All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) would come up in Bathinda, the home constituency of Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, her husband and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday said he is unaware of any such decision.
During an interaction with mediapersons here on Tuesday, he repeatedly said he had no information on the matter. “It is not my department. I cannot comment on the issue as I have no knowledge of it,” he said.
“The decision was taken at the level of chief minister,” he added.
State chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal had announced a few days ago in Jalandhar that AIIMS would be set up in Bathinda. The announcement had evoked strong reaction from the Congress leadership in Doaba as the institute was earlier proposed to be started in this region. The bureaucracy is even said to have identified the land in Kapurthala district for the purpose.
Sukhbir, however, denied charges that the state government was too generous towards the home constituency of his wife. “We treat Punjab as one. There is no question of bias against any region. Several projects have been started in Doaba and Majha regions as well. Therefore, it is wrong to say that the government is inclined towards Malwa only,” he remarked.
Sukhbir said he had urged Union defence minister Manohar Parrikar to start commercial flights from the Adampur Air Force station which was again in Doaba.
The deputy chief minister also feigned ignorance about the Vyapam scam that has rocked Madhya Pradesh and said he could not comment on something that had happened “too far away” from Punjab. When asked to comment on the demand for a CBI inquiry into the scandal which had claimed dozens of lives, he said the parties raking up the issue were “rejected and frustrated”.
When asked to explain as to how a Punjab police officer, whose academic degree had been found to be fake, was continuing in service, Sukhbir said he would talk to his home secretary on this.
“Since I had gone abroad, I am not aware of the case. I will talk to the home secretary on this,” he said.
He also tried to undermine the differences between the SAD and BJP on the drug issue and instead blamed Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. “The malicious campaign against Punjab was started by Rahul Gandhi. His thoughtless statement that most of the Punjab youth were drug addicts and the subsequent media hype tarnished the state’s image whereas the truth is that Punjab is fighting the war against drug smuggling like no other state. No drug is produced here. All narcotics come from across the border,” he asserted.
Reacting to BJP minister Madan Mohan Mittal’s accusations that Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders interfered in his working, Sukhbir claimed that he had not formed any committees the minister talked about.
Sukhbir also mocked at Amritsar MP and former chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s mass contact programme stating it was like a flash in the pan. “He has hit the roads not for people’s cause but to fight a battle within his party. After a few days he will again go into hibernation.”
The people of Punjab should not expect much from the Congress leader as he had not taken care of even his own constituency, he jibed. Sukhbir remarked that Amarinder had lost political relevance.