Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa has demanded the resignation of Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on moral grounds over the pesticide scam and asked for the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to be called in.
Addressing the media on Tuesday in Bathinda, Bajwa said agriculture department officers, a minister and men in the chief minister’s office were involved in the scam, and if the CM was sure that it was not so, and if he had sympathy left for farmers, “he should order a CBI inquiry”. “It’s not wrong to arrest director of agriculture Mangal Singh Sandhu but agriculture minister Tota Singh should be arrested first,” he said.
For the benefit of `5 crore as bribe for pushing spurious pesticides, the state government had dealt a blow of `5,000 crore to cotton growers, said Bajwa, adding that instead of purchasing the pesticides from Punjab State Co-operative Supply and Marketing Federation Limited, the state government had bought these from a private firm for a higher cost. “Besides the agriculture department officials, a top Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader from Muktsar district is behind the scam,” he claimed.
Bajwa asked the chief minister to go on fast-unto-death outside the Prime Minister’s residence to get the Centre to waive Punjab’s farm debt of `51,000 crore, and said the Punjab Congress would support him. “The statement of Union food processing industries minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, that Punjab doesn’t need a special economic package, is unfortunate,” said the Congress leader, adding: “If the NDA (National Democratic Alliance) government can sanction a special package to Bihar before the assembly elections, why can’t the loans of Punjab farmers be waived?”
He visited Chughe Kalan, Behman Dewana and Bhagi wander villages to meet farmers whose crop whitefly has destroyed and comfort the families where cotton farmers had committed suicide under distress.
Quiet on tussle with Capt
After a war of words with bête noire Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress president Partap Singh Bajwa preferred to remain silent on the issue on Tuesday. He said differences existed in every political party and his visit to Delhi on Monday that was seen in the context of internal tussle within the state unit was for personal reasons. Asked about the possibility of the change of the guard in the Punjab Congress, Bajwa said he was getting the dates every month from the media but he was unaware of any such move.