Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, who would often refer to the SAD-BJP ties as "nohn maas da rishta (inseparable)" at his public rallies and press meets, now feels uncomfortable at the mention of the alliance.
At a press conference on the sidelines of a function at Khanaura village, where he inaugurated a centre of excellence for fruits in the presence of Israeli ambassador Daniel Carmon, Badal outright refused to comment on any issue related to the BJP. "I won't take any questions on this issue," he said when asked to comment on the prospects of the two parties parting ways.
He refused to react to BJP's former MP Navjot Singh Sidhu and his CPS wife Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu's aggressive statements. When asked why he had become so defensive, he said there were reasons for it.
The chief minister also appeared helpless in case of the RSS spreading its wings in the state. "They are well within their right to preach, I cannot stop them," he said.
While referring to drug menace in the state, Badal said, "It is alleged that Punjab is in the throes of a sweeping drug addiction, but who is responsible for the drug supply? It comes from Pakistan and Afghanistan. If the Centre seals the borders, the supply will be automatically cut," he said.
The state BJP is trying to corner the SAD on the drug issue and plans to take up the matter with the Prime Minister. Its leaders have been daring the government to take action against the drug mafia and its political patrons.
Badal said if the neighbouring states stopped open sale of opium and poppy husk, Punjab would also benefit. "We are making all-out efforts to wean away youth from drugs but the state government alone cannot succeed in this endeavour," he added.
He said the SAD would contest the Delhi assembly elections in alliance with the BJP. When reminded that the saffron party was yet to respond to his party's core committee meeting resolution to fight the local bodies' polls jointly, he said he had the authority to tell the alliance party to do so.
Responding to another query, Badal said farmers in the state were under a debt of Rs 30,000 crore and nearly 4,500 farmers had committed suicide in the past 10 years due to their bad economic conditions.
"Agriculture is no longer a profitable profession. Farmers need to diversify and adopt alternative means to earn more," he said, adding that the state contributed 50% of food grains to the central pool, yet got no appreciation.