BJP echoes SAD, but Sidhu says drugs ferried in red-beacon cars
Diluting its stand that the “problem of drugs in Punjab has taken a serious turn”, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Friday echoed senior ruling partner Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) line, saying the issue was exaggerated by the Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) “to defame the state”.
But the party’s MLA and chief parliamentary secretary Dr Navjot Kaur Sidhu sang a different tune: “The problem of drugs is so severe in Punjab that some leaders are using their official, red-beacon vehicles to supply drugs. These red beacons have been allotted by deputy CM Sukhbir Badal to every Tom, Dick and Harry.”
Talking to reporters on the sidelines the party’s two-day state executive meeting that began on Friday, she even countered Sukhbir’s statements blaming the Border Security Force (BSF). “If the BSF is responsible for porous borders, Sukhbir must explain who is acting as supplier to bring the drugs from border areas to other parts of the state. It’s the police and politicians only.”
Blamed BJP-ruled states, indirectly
However, the BJP executive passed a resolution asking states where opium cultivation is legal to “plug loopholes”. Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has been saying that smuggling from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, both states ruled by the BJP, was among reasons of drug abuse in Punjab.
Sidhu said: “Some politicians in Punjab are making huge money from the drug business... We all get salaries as elected representatives. But some of us have become owners of Rs 100-200 crore in a very short span. Nobody is probing from where this money has come from.”
She claimed she had asked CM (Parkash Singh) Badal to order quarterly income examination for politicians and police officers; “but he has not done anything”.
What she said: Udta Punjab shows reality
Sidhu also termed the recent controversial Bollywood movie ‘Udta Punjab’ as reality of Punjab: “If everything is fine in Punjab, then why was the movie made on Punjab only?”
Asked if the SAD-BJP government in Punjab was responsible for the menace, she replied: “It’s always the government running a state that’s responsible for all situations.”
On state BJP chief and Union minister Vijay Sampla having dismissed the drug issue, she remarked, “Everyone must go to private drug de-addiction centres to see how serious the problem is.”
This blunted the BJP’s stance in its political resolution that said, “There is no country in the world where the menace of drugs is not there. Every state in India is facing this problem.” It said there was neither any legal cultivation of opium nor any pharmaceutical industry manufacturing a salt being used in synthetic drugs in Punjab.
No big deal, says party
“Drugs have been eating into vitals of Punjab since Independence and even before that. The political parties have blown up this issue just to defame the land of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and the soldiers of Punjab who have sacrificed their lives to defend [the] country,” stated the resolution.
The resolution was seconded by former state BJP chief Kamal Sharma who during his tenure had vociferously targeted the Akalis on the issue.
Later, at a press conference, BJP’s Punjab affairs in-charge Prabhat Jha said, “Those who are saying that all youth between age of 16 and 30 years are addicted to drugs actually mean that entire Punjab is addicted. Do they mean that Shaheed Bhagat Singh and other martyrs were also addicts?”
But Jha was on a sticky wicket when asked if the BJP was also one among those parties that tried to exploit the issue of drugs to earn political brownie points as its national chief Amit Shah had planned a yatra in Punjab on this issue in February last year which was later called off. “Just show me the record when our party chief had announced this programme,” he said.
Defending some SAD leaders whose names cropped up in different drug rackets, Jha said: “Give me proof.”