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On sticky wicket, Badal ducks and weaves

In the interest of peace, the CM wants the disagreement in Sikh institutions over references to a militant preacher played down.

punjab Updated: May 05, 2013 00:08 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times

In the interest of peace, the CM wants the disagreement in Sikh institutions over references to a militant preacher played down.

Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal looks to keep the name of late Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on a plaque at the memorial of Operation Bluestar in which he died in 1984; and Sikh parliament Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is keen to remove it. Caught between the two, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday snubbed the media when they asked him to clarify the stand of his party, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), on the issue.

"Baba baksh deyo… (Oh dear, forgive)… yaar, chhadeya karo (just leave the issue)… tusi vi thodi shanti banayi rakho (you also please hold peace)… kyun ohoje question puchde ho jide naal state di shanti kharab hove (Why you ask questions that disturb the state's harmony?)" Badal said, folding his hands to the media during the press conference on Saturday at Rakhra village in this district.

The chief minister was at the village to attend the bhog ceremony on the death anniversary of the mother of rural development and panchayati raj minister Surjit Singh Rakhra. The controversial memorial is built inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Known for not giving clear answers to questions he wants to avoid, the CM told the media to fear God and not start a debate. "Tuhanu rab da vaasta hai… kirpa karke eh debate shuru na karo," he said. "The media's role in maintaining peace is greater than of any other class, including politicians."

The way Badal ducked repeated questions over this issue betrayed his struggle to distance himself from the controversy. Asked whether the state government would offer jobs to the relatives of other Indian prisoners in Pakistan, dead or alive, like it had helped the two daughters of Sarabjeet Singh after his death, Badal said the government always had considered the cases sympathetically.

"Whoever have come to me, I have listened to them," he said. "We try best to give them jobs. In future too, we will do the same," Badal said, denying that the state government was not keen to frame policy to help the families whose only breadwinners were in Pakistan's custody.

Says Pak buffaloes no gift, story utter bull

On the media reports that he had received 13 animals as gift from Pakistan when relations between the two countries were tense over Sarabjit's death in Lahore jail, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said he had done nothing wrong.

"I have bought these animals from Pakistan as any farmer can by law," he said on Saturday in Patiala. "The animals are not gifts. There is no question of receiving gift from Pakistan," said Badal, showing documents of payment and customs-clearance to the media.

"Why's this controversy?" he said, "majh hi mangvayi hai…kite mem thodi mangwa layi (I have bought only a buffalo, not a foreign lady)".

The animals he claims to have bought from Pakistan include Sahiwal cows, Sahiwal bull, Nili Ravi buffaloes, Nili Ravi bull, and Balthi sheep.

First Published: May 05, 2013 00:06 IST