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Punjab: Drugs come into debate on guv address

The discussion on Punjab governor Kaptan Singh Solanki’s address on Monday turned into a heated debate between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress legislators as they levelled allegations against one another for their alleged involvement in the drug racket in the state.

chandigarh Updated: Mar 17, 2015 09:32 IST
Manpreet Randhawa
Manpreet Randhawa
Hindustan Times
Chandigarh,Punjab governor,Kaptan Singh Solanki

The discussion on Punjab governor Kaptan Singh Solanki’s address on Monday turned into a heated debate between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and Congress legislators as they levelled allegations against one another for their alleged involvement in the drug racket in the state.

Speaking against the motion, Congress MLA from Dera Baba Nanak Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said the only development that had taken place in Punjab was in drug trade. “The Punjab governor, in his address, had said how the drug problem had the potential of threatening the future of youth in Punjab. In fact, it has already ruined the youth of Punjab,” Randhawa said while blaming Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal for doing nothing to tackle the menace despite being a seasoned politician.

“Why is revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia’s name always in the forefront when it comes to drug trade in Punjab. “Whether there was disclosure by drug lord Jagdish Bhola or chargesheet by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) or even the Punjab Police records, Majithia’s name surfaces invariably.”

Randhawa wondered as to why Majithia had not resigned to pave way for a free and fair probe in the allegations levelled against him. “Let there be a probe against me or anyone else whose name is being associated with drugs, even if he is from my own party,” he said.

Randhawa also referred to the report of the BBC on how drugs have assumed the nature of an epidemic in Tarn Tarn, the New York Times coverage on Punjab being in the tight grip of drug addiction, Narcotic Control Board of India saying four out of 10 men in Punjab are addicted to drugs and a study by Guru Nanak Dev University claiming that 73% of youth in rural Punjab were involved in drugs.

On this, Majithia got up and told Randhawa that the latter should not talk like a judge. It is the court of law that should decide about the case, instead of people levelling wild allegations.

“You should not be selective. What about the involvement of various Congress leaders in the drug trade? You should first get the resignation of your senior party leaders who are involved in various scams before asking me for this,” said Majithia.

Valtoha comes tomajithia’s rescue

SAD MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha came to Majithia’s rescue, reminding the House that CLP leader Sunil Jakhar, both inside and outside the House, had admitted that he thought there was some political conspiracy in dragging Majithia’s name into the drug racket.

Badal also got up to defend Majithia saying it looked as if politicians had become enemies of one another. “We should have the patience to get the probe by both the ED and the Punjab Police completed before pointing a finger at someone,” said Badal. The House witnessed heated discussions among Randhawa, Majithia and Valtoha.

Earlier, SAD MLA Bibi Jagir Kaur lambasted her political arch rival from Bholath for his alleged involvement in drug racket. “His close associate has been nabbed by Fazilka police with 2kg heroin and 24 gold biscuits. He was always involved in political vendetta against me,” the Bibi said, informing the House that the wealth of the “chief spokesperson” of the Congress had increased many times over the years.

Congress MLAs Ajit Singh Mofar and Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa immediately got up to say that the person Bibi Jagir Kaur was referring to was not the chief spokesperson of their party. “Now, he is trying to get into the Aam Aadmi Party. How can a khas aadmi be in the AAP, which is a political party of the common man,” the Bibi said.


Gag orders of the day

The budget session has come with gag orders for the media. After a dossier on how to cover proceedings of the Punjab assembly with no mention of what’s expunged, there is yet another order for the media -- not to report proceedings that are not taken on record. On Monday, assembly Speaker Charanjit Atwal ruled that the Congress bid to move a breach of privilege motion against revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia was not to be taken on record leaving the media baffled. Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal later explained it in his advice to leader of opposition Sunil Jakhar. “Mr Jakhar, your main intention is to convey it to the media. Let’s not change the assembly rules or dictate terms to the Speaker.” Jakhar retorted by saying that those who flouted the rules with impunity were now reminding them of rules.

Punjabi lessons of the day

While moving a call attention notice on spread of cancer in Punjab, Congress MLA Charanjit Channi started reading it in English. He was soon interrupted by assembly speaker Charanjit Atwal who reminded him that the sacrifices of many people for a Punjabi suba (state) should be respected by conducting the house in Punjabi. Channi blamed the assembly staff for handing him over the paper in English. But as minister Madan Mohan Mittal got up to reply, it was the turn of Congress MLAs to remind the minister to “mind his language”. Punjabi please, they chorused. The Speaker once again reiterated that he had ruled that members speak in Punjabi. “Only Punjabi will be spoken,” he said in English, leaving both ruling and opposition benches smiling.

Smart bargain of the day
Congress MLA Brahm Mohindra tried to strike a smart bargain by getting up to welcome the resolution on conferment of the Padma Vibhushan on CM Parkash Singh Badal. “We heartily welcome the move,” he said. His gesture found special mention in the CM’s words of thanks. However, after the resolution was passed, Mohindra also reminded the CM of the benevolence of former PM Manmohan Singh towards him. “Whenever you went to meet the former PM, you got something extra from him. The House should also pass a resolution showing solidarity with the former PM in this crisis situation (being summoned by a court in the coal scam),” Mohindra said. The bargain did not find any takers as the CM and the ruling benches chose to stay mum.

First Published: Mar 17, 2015 09:30 IST